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Byline: Terri Somers
Dec. 23--Few outside the laboratory paid attention recently when the San Diego biotech Structural Genomix found a way to build a three-dimensional diagram of the microscopic protein that, when mutated, causes cystic fibrosis.
But to Suzanne Pattee, it was big news.
Pattee, a 40-year-old Maryland woman, lives with the genetic disorder, which encourages her body to suffocate her by constantly filling her lungs with a thick mucus. She has already surpassed the average life span of cystic fibrosis patients 33.4 years thanks in large part to biotech drugs.
Now, she is hopeful that Structural Genomix's diagram could be used to develop better treatments for the disease by showing scientists where and how a drug's molecules should bind to the protein to correct the mutation.
While that could take another five years or more, experts say the diagramming of the protein is a huge leap ahead.
"I'm optimistic when I hear about advances like this. It helps in the day to day to keep going," said Pattee, a lawyer who works with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "Obviously I'd like it tomorrow. My goal is to stay healthy enough to benefit if this does come to …