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What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that affects many parts of your body. The parts most commonly affected are the lungs, the pancreas and the digestive system

To understand how CF affects the body it is helpful to start with understanding the role of the CFTR protein. We all have CFTR proteins in our body, it stands for the “cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator”. Their job is to control the movement of salt and water across the cell surfaces. If you have CF, your CFTR protein:

  • may not be being produced at all, or
  • only a small amount is produced, or
  • the CFTR protein that is being produced is not able to get to the cell surface,
  • or the CFTR protein is produced and gets to the cell surface but doesn’t work as well as it should.

If salt and water can’t be moved properly across the cell surfaces in organs like the lungs, the pancreas, there will be thick sticky secretions. There is more information later on how CF affects the lungs.

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