Scripps Research discoveries lead to newly approved drug for infant respiratory distress syndrome

Scripps Research Institute professor emeritus Charles Cochrane, M.D., led work that laid the foundation for the new drug Surfaxin, now approved in the United States for the treatment of infant respiratory distress syndrome. Credit: Courtesy of The Scripps Research Institute.

Scientific advances at The Scripps Research Institute have led to a new drug Surfaxin (lucinactant), approved today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat infant respiratory distress syndrome.

"I am excited that our scientific findings will help save lives," said Charles Cochrane, MD, professor emeritus at Scripps Research. "Many years of work in our basic research laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute made this landmark development possible."

(also known as neonatal syndrome) is a life-threatening condition affecting pre-term infants. The more premature an infant is, the more likely he or she is to suffer from it and die.

The condition occurs when infants are born prior to the time when natural surfactant is made in their lungs. Surfactant is a liquid that coats the inside of the lungs, helping to keep the air sacs open and making normal breathing possible. Without enough surfactant, the lungs collapse and the body can be starved of oxygen.

In addition to , current treatments for pre-term infants involve using surfactants derived from chopped cow or pig lungs. However, animal-derived surfactants are expensive, contain material that can be injurious to the lungs, and cannot be produced in quantities sufficient to treat pre-term infants worldwide. In addition, animal-derived surfactants can only be used once since they cause an ; in contrast, the new synthetic surfactant is not immunogenic.

The Cochrane lab first created a synthetic version of surfactant in the 1990s, mimicking a natural peptide known as Surfactant Protein B; the inventors of the technology are Cochrane and Susan Revak. After this formative work at Scripps Research, the therapy was developed by Discovery Labs of Warrington, PA, which oversaw the three phases of clinical trials required by the FDA. These clinic trials provided data on the drug's success.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Score IDs patients with upper extremity DVT at low risk

date 5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), six easily available factors can be used to create a score that identifies those at low risk of adverse events during the first ...

Combined drug treatment combats kidney disease

date 15 hours ago

A recent discovery by drug researchers whereby coupling specific cell membrane receptors has altered kidney cell function has triggered a re-think of how to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) more effectively.

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs

date 15 hours ago

In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists have conducted clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: a highly effective protein from bacteriophages ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.