Strategic Research Centre: INOVCF

INOVCF: Innovative non-CFTR Approaches for Cystic Fibrosis Therapy.

Led by Dr Michael Gray at Newcastle University, this Strategic Research Centre (SRC) is focusing on the basic science behind cystic fibrosis.

Background to the research

Cystic fibrosis is caused by a faulty CFTR protein – Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator – which controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells, and when it doesn't work properly it leads to dry, acidic secretions in the lungs. This makes the mucus become sticky, clogging the lungs and, with the acid, making them vulnerable to infection.

While drugs are currently in development to treat the most common type of faulty CFTR (F508del), around 15% of those with cystic fibrosis will not benefit because they do not have that mutation. Dr Gray and his team are taking a new approach to help correct the fluid and pH (acidity) imbalance in people with cystic fibrosis by switching other salt and water transporters on or off to compensate for the lack of CFTR. Their research will be applicable to everyone with cystic fibrosis, regardless of their mutation.

Read Dr Gray's lay summary of the research.

What are the aims?

The SRC aims to:

  • Understand the role of these 'bypass transporters' in fluid and pH balance in normal and cystic fibrosis lungs.
  • Understand how acidic lung pH affects natural antimicrobial agents to fight bacterial infections.
  • Develop new cell models to help study these processes more easily, reducing the need to get cells from people with cystic fibrosis.

Who is involved?

Lead Principal Investigator (PI): Dr Michael Gray (Newcastle University)


  • Prof Margarida Amaral (University of Lisbon)
  • Prof Karl Kunzelmann (University of Regensburg)
  • Dr Julia Reichelt (University of Newcastle)
  • Dr Robert Tarran (University of North Carolina)
  • Dr Chris Ward (University of Newcastle)
  • Dr Malcolm Brodlie (University of Newcastle)
  • Prof Majlinda Lako (University of Newcastle)
  • Prof Rainer Pepperkok (University of Heidelberg)

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Cystic fibrosis, or CF, affects the lungs, digestive system and other organs, and there are over 10,600 people living with it in the UK.

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