For nearly 25 years, Dr. Herschel Scher, a pediatric pulmonologist, has treated patients with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes problems with breathing and digestion. When he began his medical career, life expectancy for those with CF was only 18 years. A decade ago, that number had more than doubled. Today, CF patients are living to 50 and beyond.

“Medications in the last five years have made a significant difference,” said Dr. Scher, medical director of pediatric pulmonology at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center in Wellington. “I’m optimistic we’ll have a cure in the near future, with all the industry-sponsored drug studies and genetic engineering going on.”

That would be a life-changing development for those who battle the disease on a daily basis and constantly struggle with the production of thick, sticky mucus that clogs airways, causes infections, and makes it difficult to gain weight, among other effects.