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Preventing Lung Injury in Newborns

March 13, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute received a two-year, $150,000 award from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The award will fund an investigation into the use of a compound to protect the lungs of newborns against damage from exposure to excessive levels of oxygen.

Ru-Jeng Teng, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of neonatology and a researcher at the Research Institute, is the principal investigator for the grant. Dr. Teng also is a neonatologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Newborn babies, particularly those born prematurely, who are put on breathing machines and receive high levels of oxygen, are likely to develop a condition called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BPD can impair the proper growth of blood vessels and cells in the lung. Babies with BPD are susceptible to lung infection and can develop chronic damage to lung tissue.

Dr. Teng will explore the use of a compound, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), in rats, to evaluate its efficacy in protecting premature lungs from this type of lung injury. The results may lead to the use of a BH4 substitute in treating bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

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