Medical scientists at Dundee University are working with colleagues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to tackle cystic fibrosis, the most common fatal inherited disease in Western Europe. The two universities have won British Council funding for research into the use of aerosol spray in treatment. While normal patients have receptors on the "body facing" side of membrane cells lining the lungs that can respond to messages from hormones and neurotransmitters, these do not work in cystic fibrosis patients.
Researchers are investigating whether they can reach alternative receptors facing the airways by inhaled aerosols, which would trigger the cells into secreting the necessary salt and water to prevent the build up of dangerous mucus.
Stuart Wilson, of Dundee's department of child health, said: "It's still very early days and I feel uncomfortable about talking in terms of a step towards a cure. But this line of research could well develop into an important addition to the range of therapies available for patients suffering from this disease."