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Getting to the Heart of Inflammation

Many babies born prematurely suffer from different kinds of inflammation.

Many babies born prematurely suffer, sometimes fatally, from different kinds of inflammation.

By Julia Veitch

Pre-term babies with bronchopulmonary disease are providing insights into inflammatory responses behind diseases as diverse as migraine, arthritis and diabetes.

Julia Veitch is Communications Manager with Monash University’s Central Clinical School.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Inflammation is a hot topic in medical research. As more is understood about various chronic disease processes, it has become evident that acute and chronic inflammation can be damaging. The hunt is on for a means to silence any excessive inflammatory process and provide a therapy for diseases caused by inflammation.

Inflammation is the crucial first step to fighting infection and promoting healing. An inflammatory response usually takes place any time a foreign body invades our body, which might be a physical object such as a splinter, or a bug of some sort, such as bacteria or viruses. The body begins to attack the foreign object using inflammation to destroy or contain it. In a healthy person, once the inflammation has run its course and destroyed or disabled whatever is causing the response, it goes away.

Inflammatory activity is regulated by immediate feedback so that it doesn’t get out of hand. This is analogous to the various negative feedback cycles in our body that maintain temperature, blood glucose and sodium at optimum levels.

However, while most of us have a robust, healthy and stable immune system, things do go wrong. Diseases caused by not enough inflammation are very rare, usually with a hereditary component. The converse, disease caused by too much inflammation, is common.

Indeed, there is a vast array of problems caused by...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.