2002-01-19 / Community

Swimming for Cystic Fibrosis

Swimming for Cystic Fibrosis

Take the plunge (yes, in the ocean) for Cystic Fibrosis and make a difference in the lives of United States citizens who suffer from this incurable genetic disease. At last count, there were more than 30,000.

Join other local citizens of the Rockaway’s in raising money for a cure on Saturday, February 9th at the Boulevard Tap and Grill, located at Beach 98 Street, in Rockaway Beach.

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease affecting the cells and glands that produce mucus tears, sweat, saliva, and digestive juices. Normally the secretions are thin and slippery. Instead, anyone born with this problem, they are thick and sticky. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the secretions may plug up tubes ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas. It is caused by a defective gene that produces an abnormal protein, which alters the normal movement of chloride in and out of cells.

The most dangerous side effects of Cystic Fibrosis are lung disease and lung damage that can lead to respiratory failure. By clogging the system, mucous can allow bacteria to grow, resulting in infection and long-term damage. But the pancreas may also not function properly, and fail to provide enzymes needed to digest fats and proteins completely, causing chronic diarrhea, and vitamin deficiencies on top of the rest.

The reproductive systems and sweat glands in the human body are also affected. Men with Cystic Fibrosis are usually infertile. Some women with the disease can reproduce, but not all. The sweat glands release too much salt, causing other problems.

Progress is being made in fighting this disease. Not to long ago, people with Cystic Fibrosis rarely lived to be 20. Now half of the people who have it live to be 30. The biggest breakthrough so far was identifying the defective gene involved, in 1989. Some scientists have been studying how to insert copies of a normal replacement gene into the cells of the respiratory system, alleviating symptoms.

This technique has had some success in the laboratory, but there is still no reliable way to do this in a human body. The problem is finding a delivery system. Intentional infection with a modified virus carrying the fixed cells, fat cell capsules, and synthetic vectors, meaning carriers, are being tested as possibilities. Clinical tests are under way.

The schedule for the event is as follows; 1:30 to 2:30, registration, 2:30 to 2:31, beach plunge, and 3:00 to 6:00 is the party. There will be food, unlimited beverages and a D.J. Twenty-five dollars is the minimum for non-swimmers, fifty dollars for swimming. Swimmers get a free t-shirt.

For more information you can contact Nancy A. Rhodes, Director of Special Events/Great Strides, of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at (212) 986-8783.

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