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Health Talk Recommends: A Cuddly Advocate

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the August issue of the University of Minnesota’s Children’s Health newsletter. The complete article can be found here.

A small, cuddly teddy bear is having a big impact in research funding for cystic fibrosis around the world, including here at the University of Minnesota.

The teddy bear, Burke P. Bear, is named in honor of Burke P. Derr, who died two days before his 19th birthday in 1997 from complications of cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder that causes mucus to build up and clog some organs of the body, primarily the lungs. To date, Burke P. Bear has traveled 47 states and 23 countries raising awareness of CF.

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U.S. researchers continue their attack on cystic fibrosis

According to the Boston Globe, scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston University School of Medicine may have cleared a major hurdle in the fight against cystic fibrosis: coaxing stem cells into different types of lung tissue.

The results of both teams were published in the latest edition of Cell Stem Cell.

The new developments arrive on the heels of approval for Kalydeco, a drug that targets the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis.

The University of Minnesota’s Cystic Fibrosis Center is directly involved in trials for Kalydeco. While the drug is currently approved for patients over age six, the U of M is helping determine if more people could also be helped by this new treatment.

In addition, U of M researchers are currently conducting cystic fibrosis and lung disease research in both infants and children to help identify the disease at the earliest ages possible.

This U of M research – alongside breakthroughs such as those out of Boston – may help prevent or ease the progression of the disease in the future.

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