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A new sweat test for cystic fibrosis developed at Stanford produces more detailed information than before, which may aid treatment of the disease. Stanford researchers have created a new test for people with cystic fibrosis, who suffer chronic lung infections. Treatments for cystic fibrosis may be easier to develop with the use of a new test created by Stanford researchers.
The effect on the 30,000 Americans diagnosed with the condition is debilitating: they suffer from chronic lung infections, male sterility and a host of other symptoms. Wine knows the cost of the disease firsthand: his 32-year-old daughter, Nina, has cystic fibrosis. CFTR defects vary greatly: the entire protein might be missing, or it could have just a few flaws.
The new test determines the ratio between two types of sweat in each individual by using dyes to form bubbles on the skin.

Wine's work showed that even healthy people have varying levels of CFTR and that only a small amount of CFTR is needed to remain disease-free. Therefore, drug developers have a lower target: they only need to restore 10 percent of CFTR functionality to relieve symptoms.
The researchers, who include lead author Jessica Char, a research assistant in Wine’s group, examined the CFTR levels in eight subjects with cystic fibrosis. Wine and colleagues in the Stanford School of Medicine described the test in October in the journal PLoS ONE. Current tests, which measure the amount of chloride in sweat, can’t precisely identify how much functioning CFTR is present. Also, patients can be treated with drugs that supplement their personal CFTR levels to relieve symptoms. Six of the patients were taking ivacaftor, a drug currently available to treat some types of cystic fibrosis.

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Since then, they have used the test to measure protein levels in patients taking a cystic fibrosis drug. That is particularly important because people with the same genetic flaw can have different amounts of CFTR, Wine said. Ivacaftor boosted CFTR levels as expected, but it also increased CFTR levels in a type of cystic fibrosis it is not currently designed to treat, Wine said. Create your slideshowBy using the code above and embedding this image, you consent to Getty Images' Terms of Use.

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