Lung surfactant for premature infants


School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center


Robert Notter, M.D., Ph.D., professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Neonatology, and Environmental Medicine, and laboratory colleagues.


Pulmonary surfactant is a vital substance that coats the tiny air sacs of the lungs and is required for normal breathing. This coating is often missing or deficient in the lungs of preemies, resulting in a condition known as Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) that was a leading cause of infant mortality prior to the invention of surfactant therapy. The UR group developed a lung surfactant drug derived from calf lungs and was used successfully in treatment in New York in the 1980s. Later, a newer version called Infasurf was approved by the FDA. It’s made in upstate New York and widely used to save the lives of premature infants.


Robert Notter and his team were instrumental in developing the therapy in the early 1980s. They continued their basic and clinical research to extend surfactant therapy to children and adults with severe respiratory conditions.