Healthy lungs produce a natural antibiotic that protects them from infection by routinely killing harmful bacteria on airway surfaces. People with cystic fibrosis, however, are unable to fight off such bacteria, even though their lungs produce normal amounts of the antibiotic. The fluid on airway surfaces in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis has an abnormally high salt concentration; accordingly, scientists hypothesize that the high salt concentration is what makes the antibiotic ineffective.
Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the scientists’ hypothesis?
A. When the salt concentration of the fluid on the airway surfaces of healthy people is raised artificially, the salt concentration soon returns to normal.
B. A sample of the antibiotic was capable of killing bacteria in an environment with an unusually low concentration of salt.
C. When lung tissue from people with cystic fibrosis is maintained in a solution with a normal salt concentration, the tissue can resist bacteria.
D. Many lung infections can be treated by applying synthetic antibiotics to the airway surfaces.
E. High salt concentrations have an antibiotic effect in many circumstances.