The Blogs are abuzz today with talk of nebulized hypertonic saline to treat cystic fibrosis (CF). Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has a comment and links to Dean Barnett of SoxBlog who reports his experience with saline from a patient’s perspective. The historical perspective on the treatment is interesting as well.

Saline is not new therapy, but it has assumed a higher profile since publication of a study in The New England Journal of Medicine early this year. The authors concluded, “Hypertonic saline preceded by a bronchodilator is an inexpensive, safe, and effective additional therapy for patients with cystic fibrosis.” The accompanying editorial (summarized on Medscape) was less impressed.

Recently, the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed the results of nine trials of nebulized hypertonic saline for CF. The reviewers concluded it “improves mucociliary clearance in short-term clinical trials and appears to increase lung function compared to control.” However, “In comparison to recombinant deoxyribonuclease it may be less effective at improving lung function after three months.”

Maybe so, but Dean’s perspective is encouraging. “This seems like if not a miracle, something damn close to it. For years good people, the world’s best, have been pouring their hearts, souls and money into finding effective treatments for CF and generally coming up with very little. And all of a sudden, a super-promising new treatment comes along. And it’s salt water!”

7/9/06 09:56 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.