Premature baby research recognised for innovation

Hudson Institute’s Dr Claudia Nold has been awarded a prestigious Paul Korner Innovation Award from the Heart Foundation for her research into dangerous diseases associated with premature birth. The award, awarded annually with a prize of $20,000, recognises the most innovative applications received by the Heart Foundation for their highly competitive Postdoctoral Fellowship and Future Leader Fellowship.

Associate Professor Claudia Nold has been awarded the Paul Korner Innovation Award.
Associate Professor Claudia Nold

Dr Nold, who works in the Hudson Institute’s Ritchie Centre, researches three diseases which cause the high rate of death and disease in premature babies: bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pulmonary arterial hypertension and intracranial haemorrhage. She seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms of these diseases in order to develop new and effective therapies.

The first, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, is a severe chronic lung disease that requires use of ventilators and supplementary oxygen that themselves damage the delicate, immature lung and can also lead to blindness and impaired development.

The second, pulmonary arterial hypertension, slowly destroys the baby’s right heart and has a two year survival rate of less then 50 per cent.

If severe, the third disease, intracranial haemorrhage, carries a devastating mortality of more than 70 per cent and leaves most who do survive with mental disabilities.

To date Dr Nold has shown that a molecule, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), dramatically improves the outcome of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. She plans to assess further how IL-1Ra prevents bronchopulmonary dysplasia-associated damage of lung vessels and ameliorates pulmonary arterial hypertension and right heart disease.

By discovering novel therapeutic avenues and by searching the preterm immune and coagulation systems for measurable indicators of the presence of disease, Dr Nold’s work aims to establish systems for early diagnosis, improved treatments and a far brighter outlook to preterm infants and their families.

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