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

March 7, 2012
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.

Explore further: Study breathes new life into fight against primary killer of premature infants

Related Stories

Study breathes new life into fight against primary killer of premature infants

October 18, 2011
A discovery by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies might explain why some premature infants fail to respond to existing treatments for a deadly respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and offers clues for ...

Guidelines for ventilator use help premature infants breathe easier

June 13, 2011
Guidelines that reduce the use of mechanical ventilation with premature infants in favor of a gentler form of respiratory support can profoundly affect those children's outcomes while reducing the cost of care, according ...

Recommended for you

Scientists develop infection model for tickborne flaviviruses

August 22, 2017
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have filled a research gap by developing a laboratory model to study ticks that transmit flaviviruses, such as Powassan virus. Powassan virus was implicated in the death of a ...

Zika virus stifles pregnant women's weakened immune system to harm baby, study finds

August 21, 2017
The Zika virus, linked to congenital birth defects and miscarriages, suppresses a pregnant woman's immune system, enabling the virus to spread and increasing the chances an unborn baby will be harmed, a Keck School of Medicine ...

Fatty liver can cause damage to other organs via crosstalk

August 21, 2017
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common. Approximately every third adult in industrialized countries has a morbidly fatty liver. This not only increases the risk of chronic liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis ...

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

0 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.