Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a rare inflammatory bowel disease, primarily affects premature infants and is a leading cause of death in the smallest and sickest of these patients. The exact cause remains unclear, and there is no effective treatment.
No test can definitively diagnose the devastating condition early, so infants with suspected NEC are carefully monitored and administered supportive care, such as IV fluids and nutrition, and antibiotics to fight infection caused by bacteria invading the gut wall. Surgery must be done to excise damaged intestinal tissue if the condition worsens.
A new preclinical study by researchers at the University of South Florida Health (USF Health) Morsani College of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine offers promise of a specific treatment for NEC, one of the most challenging diseases confronting neonatologists and pediatric surgeons.