Magazine article USA TODAY

Can New Drug Stop Infant Infections?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Can New Drug Stop Infant Infections?

Article excerpt

An experimental drug for infants undergoing heart surgery--to see whether it can help them avoid potentially lethal infections and improve their chances of survival--has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for exclusive use at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Neuprex, a bactericidal permeability increasing protein, fights bacterial poisoning, but was developed for adults and older children. Doctors will determine whether it might benefit infants and, if so, what dose is effective but still safe.

"It has the potential to make a difference in a huge number of kids; we just don't know yet," says Erica Molitor-Kirsch, assistant professor of pediatrics and primary investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded project. "It hasn't been used before in infants undergoing heart surgery."

Each year, roughly 30,000 babies in the U.S. are born with congenital heart defects. About one-third require open-heart surgery, during which the infants are placed on heart-lung machines. The procedure sometimes results in additional complications, such as inflammation, whereby the babies become noticeably swollen. "The organs most often affected by swelling are lungs, heart, kidneys, and sometimes the brain," Molitor-Kitsch notes. …

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