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Breakthrough for premature baby lung growth

Scientists believe that a new discovery could help to save the lives of premature babies.
Researchers believe they have discovered a way to make the lungs of premature babies grow in the womb, thus helping more of them to survive.

Babies that are born prematurely often have breathing problems and struggle to get enough oxygen because the lungs are the last organs to develop in the womb.

Scientists from Cardiff University have discovered that a molecule called the calcium receptor, which plays a vital role in lung growth, can be interrupted, thereby manipulating lung development.

The study on mice could have important benefits for premature babies as researchers believe it will lead to the development of new drugs to aid lung development.

Published in the Journal of Physiology, the study was carried out by Dr Daniela Riccardi and Professor Paul Kemp of Cardiff University in collaboration with Professor David Warburton of the Children's' Hospital Los Angeles.

Dr Riccardi said: "Through our research we have gained a better understanding of how lungs develop normally and so we can now begin to work out what happens when things go wrong, such as when a baby is born much too early.

"From the work we have published today, we now have a real possibility for fast-tracking new drugs for helping these very premature babies."

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