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Protecting the Lungs of Premature Infants

Enzyme prevents inflammation and damage, three new studies show

WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- New research shows an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which protects the body from destructive free radicals, plays a key role in preventing inflammation that causes lung damage in premature infants.

The findings, from three studies by researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the Medical College of Wisconsin, could help in the development of new treatments to control this kind of inflammation and protect the lungs of premature infants.

The studies were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting this week in San Francisco.

Superoxide dismutase reacts with free radicals and converts them into harmless byproducts. In experiments with lung cells, the researchers found turning on the gene that produces superoxide dismutase could partly prevent damage to lung cells caused by free radicals.

Superoxide disumtase may also encourage lung development. Transgenic mice with an extra copy of the superoxide disumutase gene had better blood vessel growth in their lungs than normal mice when both groups of mice were exposed to a 95 percent oxygen environment for a week, the researchers found.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about premature infants.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, May 3, 2004
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