New drugs that could help patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis are to be developed by scientists at Queen's University Belfast, as part of a €50m European research project.

The new inhaled antibiotics, which are to be developed over the next five years, will target lung infection which causes illness and death in patients with the diseases.

The Queen's-led consortium, called inhaled Antibiotics in Bronchiectasis and Cystic Fibrosis or iABC, comprises leading lung specialists based at 20 organisations in the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

It is being formed as there is an urgent need for new inhaled antibiotics to be developed to help people suffering from CF and bronchiectasis because the bacteria causing them are becoming increasingly resistant to the already limited range of antibiotics currently available.

CF is a genetic disease that blocks a person's lungs and digestive system, affecting approximately 36,000 people in the European Union.

Bronchiectasis is a group of diseases in which a person's airways become damaged and scarred.

In developed countries, BE affects from four per 100,000 young adults to nearly 300 per 100,000 persons 75 years and older.

Funding for the project is coming from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) - a joint undertaking between the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry association EFPIA, aimed at speeding up the development of better and safer medicines for patients.

More than €23m of the funding is expected to come to Northern Ireland.

The project will also see a patient register for bronchiectasis set up, which will function as a central resource for care of patients with the condition.