Prophylactic treatment could become first ever prevention for premature lung disease

Lead researcher

Dr. Ina Rudloff

Main finding

The more premature a baby at birth, the less developed is its lung and the higher its risk to develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), which is a severe inflammatory disease that inhibits proper lung maturation. Affected babies suffer from life-long severe complications such as impaired neurodevelopment and are highly susceptible to airway infections that can even lead to death. An effective and safe therapy for BPD does not exist yet. In a previous study we found that the anti-inflammatory interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) can prevent the development of BPD in a murine disease model. Now we refined our initial treatment strategy and discovered that in order to achieve maximum benefit, IL-1Ra must be administered prophylactically, that is before BPD is established. Moreover, we discovered that protein C, another anti-inflammatory drug, inhibits BPD development by exerting its effects on downstream mediators that differ from those utilised by IL-1Ra.


The Ritchie Centre

Research group

Interventional Immunology in Neonatal Diseases and Beyond


Mr. Steven Cho, Ms. Christine Bui, Prof. Catriona McLean, Dr. Alex Veldman, A/Prof. Philip Berger, A/Prof. Marcel Nold, Dr. Claudia Nold

Journal and article title

Most surprising

A key implication of our study is that in order to be most efficient, IL-1Ra needs to be administered prophylactically to babies that are at highest risk of developing BPD. Moreover, we discovered that low-dose IL-1Ra is more effective in inhibiting BPD than high-dose IL-1Ra.

Future implications

Given their excellent safety profiles in adults, children and neonates, IL-1Ra alone or in combination with protein C could become the first, much needed remedy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

Disease/health impact

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia