Washington: A new research has revealed that proteins found in breast milk protect newborn infants from devastating intestinal disorder.
The study of Children's Hospital Los Angeles demonstrated that a protein called neuregulin-4 (NRG4) present in breast milk, but absent from formula, might be protective against the intestinal destruction caused in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which is a lethal gastrointestinal disease.
Researcher Mark R. Frey said that the study suggests that without the NRG4 protein found in breast milk, a normal protection mechanism for the immature gut might be missing.
Frey added that if a baby on formula encountered an NEC trigger, such as intestinal infection or injury, he or she might be at increased risk for a life-threatening condition, whereas the protein, specifically with a receptor found in the intestine, ErbB4, blocks inflammatory intestinal damage.
Frey continued that they plan to evaluate NRG4 for its therapeutic potential in this disease.
The study is published in the American Journal of Pathology.