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Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Receives $20 Million Gift from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The grant will be used to accelerate drug discovery for cystic fibrosis

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

BETHESDA, Maryland -- The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation today announced the single largest contribution ever received in its 44-year history -- a $20 million grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- to accelerate its drug discovery and development program for cystic fibrosis (CF). The grant will be used to support the CF Foundation's innovative Therapeutics Development Program and will enable CF scientists to adapt state-of-the-art technology to design and screen thousands of candidate compounds as potential new drugs for treating CF.

"One of the missions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to support organizations that are not only doing something important to improve global health, but are also efficient at what they do," says William H. Gates, Sr., co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The CF Foundation is a proven leader because of their vision and determination to identify the resources and people needed to cure this disease. We are pleased to provide this grant and hope that others will be encouraged to follow our lead."

As an innovative voluntary health organization, the CF Foundation's Therapeutics Development Program was created to facilitate the early stages of CF drug discovery and development. Part of this program is a network of specialized clinical research centers where individuals with CF have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. By providing the necessary "infrastructure" for biopharmaceutical companies to tap into, the CF Foundation seeks to accelerate the flow, and increase the number, of potential new therapeutics into the pipeline and deliver them to people with CF.

The Gates' gift will support scientists to adapt the dynamic drug discovery technologies, called combinatorial chemistry and high-throughput screening, to CF. Combinatorial chemistry is a scientific process by which new chemical compounds are created. It is analogous to using a child's building blocks to fabricate different shapes. High-throughput screening rapidly evaluates the actual compounds generated through combinatorial chemistry to test if they are effective. These tests determine whether an experimental compound actually corrects CF cells, or protects against deadly bacteria, so common to CF lungs.

"This remarkable gift by the Gates family will allow the CF Foundation to pursue an even more diversified approach to curing this disease by greatly expanding our drug discovery program," says Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the CF Foundation. "The potential therapeutics already in the pipeline look very promising," Beall continues. "What makes a gift of this magnitude so exciting is that it will allow us to exploit technology that will increase the volume in this pipeline exponentially. And, while we are pursuing this new avenue, we will continue to expand our current research, education and care programs and attack this disease from all angles."

The best evidence that CF Foundation initiatives succeed is the improved lifespan and quality of life for those with CF due, in large part, to its network of specialized care centers. When the CF Foundation was founded in 1955, children with CF rarely lived until school age. Today, the median age of survival is 32 years, however, this fact is still unacceptable. Click below to visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on the Web (

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