Student makes medical breakthroughBy Sj.Cliff
A third year Newcastle University student spent hundreds of hours last summer analysing medical data from 30 countries only to discover that half of adults who suffer from the rare genetic disorder are infected with a common fungus.
This discovery made a major breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
Jo Armstead, 21, was working at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, where she made the discovery.
Experts said her finding could help prolong the lives of patients with the debilitating lung condition, as well as help diagnose it where it had not been detected at birth.
Although cystic fibrosis sufferers have long been known to be at risk of the infection, Miss Armstead was first to accurately determine the worldwide extent of the link.
Miss Armstead was working with Professor David Denning, who is director of the National Aspergillosis Centre and professor of infectious diseases in global health at the University of Manchester.
He said her research suggested antifungal treatments, which can reduce the symptoms of aspergillosis, may also help cystic fibrosis sufferers, adding: ‘It’s very unusual for someone her age to do something which could have such a big impact.’
The finding could also help diagnose cystic fibrosis in countries which do not have a neonatal screening programme, enabling sufferers to receive the right treatment and live longer.
Even though the research has now been published in Plos One (a prestigious scientific journal) – Jo can’t celebrate yet! She’s too busy revising for her exams!