Cystic fibrosis therapeutics: the road ahead

Chest. 2013 Jan;143(1):207-213. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-1639.


A great deal of excitement and hope has followed the successful trials and US Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug ivacaftor (Kalydeco), the first therapy available that targets the underlying defect that causes cystic fibrosis (CF). Although this drug has currently demonstrated a clinical benefit for a small minority of the CF population, the developmental pathway established by ivacaftor paves the way for other CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulators that may benefit many more patients. In addition to investigating CFTR modulators, researchers are actively developing numerous other innovative CF therapies. In this review, we use the catalog of treatments currently under evaluation with the support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, known as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Pipeline, as a platform to discuss the variety of candidate treatments for CF lung disease that promise to improve CF care. Many of these approaches target the individual components of the relentless cycle of airway obstruction, inflammation, and infection characteristic of lung disease in CF, whereas others are aimed directly at the gene defect, or the resulting dysfunctional protein, that instigates this cycle. We discuss how new findings from the laboratory have informed not only the development of novel therapeutics, but also the rationales for their use and the outcomes used to measure their effects. By reviewing the breadth of candidate treatments currently in development, as well as the recent progress in CF therapies reflected by the evolution of the therapeutics pipeline over the past few years, we hope to build upon the optimism and anticipation generated by the recent success of Kalydeco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminophenols / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Drug Therapy / trends
  • Humans
  • Quinolones / therapeutic use*


  • Aminophenols
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Quinolones
  • ivacaftor