A factor found in umbilical cord blood could become the basis for developing a new therapy to fight harmful inflammation, University of Utah School of Medicine researchers report.

When given to mice, the newly discovered factor countered signs of inflammation and sepsis, such as fever, fluctuations in respiratory rate, and death. The factor circulates in the blood of newborns for about two weeks after birth and is not found in older babies or adults, according to the study published online Sept 6, 2016, in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Yost and colleagues isolated a cord blood factor, called neonatal NET inhibitory factor (nNIF), based on its ability to inhibit production of a specific component of the inflammatory response, called NETs (neutrophil extracellular traps). While NETs are thought to ordinarily help the body ward off infectious bacteria and viruses, they can also damage blood vessels and organs during sepsis.

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