Research

All Articles in the Category ‘Research’

Treating Patients With Autism in the Emergency Department

Dr. Eileen Klein, attending physician and co-director of Emergency Medicine Research, will speak about the challenges families and children with autism face in navigating the emergency department.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are becoming a larger proportion of Seattle Children’s patients, challenging providers to develop new tactics to meet their unique needs.

This year’s Pediatric Bioethics Conference, “Autism Re-examined: Ethical Challenges in Care, Support, Research and Inclusion,” will focus on the challenges and special requirements of treating these patients.

Dr. Eileen Klein, attending physician and co-director of Emergency Medicine Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is a featured speaker at this year’s conference. She gave On the Pulse a sneak preview of her presentation plans, what she’s most looking forward to and what she hopes to learn. Read full post »

Sea Anemone Venom Shows Promise For Lupus Immunotherapy Treatment

Photo credit: Michele Kelly, San Blas, Panama

Sea anemone venom is showing promise a potential lupus immunotherapy. Photo credit: Michele Kelly, San Blas, Panama.

Sea anemones that grow on the ocean floor are showing promise as a source of treatment for lupus, a painful disease in which a person’s immune system attacks its own healthy, normal cells.

Dr. Anne Stevens, who treats and studies lupus at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is presenting results this week from her research on dalazatide, a compound derived from sea anemone venom that she is researching to determine if it could be used as a potential immunotherapy for lupus. The condition affects about 1.5 million Americans, and nearly 90% of those diagnosed are female. Almost all women who get lupus are of childbearing age.

“This could lead to a totally new approach of treating lupus,” Stevens said. “In lupus patients, a particular type of immune cell is overactive. We found that dalazatide can target those overactive effector memory T cells and turn down their activity.” Read full post »

From 35 Percent Chance of Survival to Five Years Cancer-Free, Double Stem-Cell Transplant Improves Outcomes for Kids With High-Risk Neuroblastoma

Katie Belle, now 10 years old, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma when she was 3.

Katie Belle, now 10 years old, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma when she was 3.

In August of 2009, when Katie Belle was just 3 1/2 years old, a persistent fever led her to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department where doctors discovered a baseball-sized tumor in her abdomen. She was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a cancer that starts in immature nerve cells and develops into tumors. Her chance of survival: 35%.

“I felt like someone stuck a dagger in my stomach,” said Katie’s mother, Jennifer Belle. “I couldn’t breathe. However, I had to put on a brave face for Katie.”

For children with high-risk neuroblastoma, which according to the National Cancer Institute occurs in approximately one out of 100,000 children, Katie’s prognosis was not uncommon. On average, less than 50% of children with this disease live five or more years after diagnosis.

However, a Phase 3 trial performed by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), and led by Seattle Children’s oncologist Dr. Julie Park, has found that adding a second autologous stem-cell transplant, which is a transplant that uses the patient’s own stem cells, to standard therapy improves outcomes for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. Read full post »

Doughnut Shop Tip in Texas Leads Family to Immunotherapy Cancer Trial, Zane Becomes Cancer-Free

“As a parent, you never want to hear that your child has cancer,” said Paul Esposito, of Plano, Texas. “It creates an emotion that starts at your feet and takes hold. It’s devastating.”

This was the terrible news Paul and his family received in 2010 when his son, Zane Esposito, was only 7 years old. Zane, now 12, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in June 2010. Zane underwent three grueling years of cancer treatment, including 365 days of chemotherapy, before reaching remission. Two years later, Zane relapsed in January of this year. Their only option: another three years of aggressive chemotherapy.

“I really don’t like chemo, it’s the worst,” said Zane. “My back hurt super bad due to tiny fractures from the chemo. I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes. And here I was having to start another three years all over again.”

Not only was the thought of starting over daunting, but Zane faced a major hurdle as he began chemotherapy – his cancer was not responding to the treatment. He had refractory ALL. Zane and his family were desperate for another treatment option.

About 2,000 miles away in Seattle, Wash., they would find that other option. But first, they would learn about it in the most unlikely place: a doughnut shop. Read full post »

Bullying Report Describes Effects On Child Development, Need For Cyberbullying Monitoring

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A new report on bullying describes its effects on childhood development and calls for better monitoring and understanding of cyberbullying.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine describes the effects of bullying on childhood development and calls for a better understanding of cyberbullying. Dr. Frederick Rivara, Seattle Children’s Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatrics, chaired the report committee, and Dr. Megan Moreno, principal investigator of the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was a committee member. On the Pulse sat down with them to discuss the new findings and what families can do to protect their children from bullying.

What new information or findings does this report offer about bullying? What are the key takeaways?

Moreno: While bullying has been around for decades, there are many misconceptions about bullying. This report describes and synthesizes the current scientific evidence so that we can have a shared understanding of the current state of the science on bullying.

The first takeaway is that bullying experiences can lead to biological changes for the target of bullying, including stress response and brain activity alterations. Read full post »

Boy Donates Part of His Brain to Science, Researchers Discover Major Cause of Epilepsy

Alden Bernate, 12, needed neurosurgery to stop his relentless seizures. Brain tissue donated from that surgery led to a discovery of a gene linked to intractable epilepsy.

Alden Bernate, 12, is only a middle school student, but he’s already played a big part in groundbreaking epilepsy research. He donated brain tissue for scientific research after he had surgery to disconnect part of his brain that was causing severe seizures.

The human genetics team at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, led by Dr. Ghayda Mirzaa and Dr. William Dobyns, used Alden’s brain tissue along with the tissue from other patients to discover a new gene mutation that can cause intractable epilepsy. The finding opens the door to potential treatments that target that gene. The team’s findings are published in the current issue of JAMA Neurology. Read full post »

New Gene Sequencing Technology Opens Door to Faster Diagnoses

Kaylyn Milligan and her son, Owen. Milligan lost two babies due to a genetic mutation she didn’t know she had. After a careful review of her genome, Dr. James Bennett was able to identify the mutation and Milligan was able to make educated family planning decisions.

There are times when a child comes to the hospital with symptoms and even after a thorough exam and many tests, doctors can have a difficult time making a diagnosis. Now, doctors and researchers at Seattle Children’s have a new tool that will be key in finding answers for patients and their families: A next generation gene sequencer that can be used to sequence DNA quickly and make diagnoses in complex cases.

The machine, an Illumina NextSeq, can sequence all of the genes in the human genome in just 24 hours. The enormous amount of data generated by this machine will be processed using the PierianDx analytical pipeline.

“This new technology will dramatically decrease the cost of gene sequencing for our patients and will help us make quicker diagnoses, especially in complicated cases,” said Dr. James Bennett, a geneticist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “Families can sometimes go years without a diagnosis. Now, we’ll be able to provide more answers and identify potential therapies based on what we find in the genome.” Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Joins Largest Autism Research Study in U.S.

Dr. Raphael Bernier is helping launch a web-based registry with DNA analysis to accelerate autism research and speed discovery of treatments.

Dr. Raphael Bernier is helping launch a web-based registry with DNA analysis to accelerate autism research and speed discovery of treatments.

Researchers know that certain genes are linked to autism spectrum disorders — scientists have identified about 50 genes, and they estimate an additional 300 or more are also involved.

Pinpointing these genes is difficult, but it could be the key to understanding the cause of a disorder that affects 1 in every 68 children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One child’s diagnosis of autism and the gene that contributed to it will likely be completely different than another child’s diagnosis and genetic influences. Now, a nationwide study will create the largest bank of autism genes in the country that researchers can contribute to and use in research.

Seattle Children’s Autism Center is helping launch the web-based registry with DNA analysis to accelerate autism research and speed discovery of treatments. The SPARK study, sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, encompasses 21 leading national research institutions doing autism research.

“When we work to identify genes that cause autism, we need a huge number of individuals diagnosed with autism because each genetic event that leads to autism is rare,” said Dr. Raphael Bernier, a researcher and clinical director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center. “This large registry allows us to identify genetic trends. Once we know which genes to focus on, we can look at more individualized treatments for the future.” Read full post »

Doctor Partners On SIDS Newborn Hearing Study To Investigate Link To Inner Ear Damage

Jon Stephenson died of SIDS when he was 3 months old. His parents, Melissa French-Stephenson and David Stephenson, founded Jon’s Run, which donated $20,000 to support SIDS research by Seattle Children’s anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Rubens.

Melissa French-Stephenson and David Stephenson know the devastation of losing a baby to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In 2002, they lost their 3-month-old, Jon, to SIDS while he was at daycare. He was their first baby.

“We were late to daycare because he was in such a good mood that morning and we spent some time playing,” French-Stephenson said. “We have a video from earlier that week where he is laughing, smiling and kicking.”

The Stephensons, who live in San Antonio, Texas, now have two healthy boys, but they wanted to honor Jon’s legacy. They founded Jon’s Run, an organization that hosts a yearly 5K run that supports families who have lost a baby or young child and raises money for SIDS research.

“When you lose a baby to SIDS, you feel like they never had a chance to get started in life,” French- Stephenson said. “We were devastated when we lost Jon and felt it was important to bring other parents together who had lost a child to SIDS, or from any cause, to support each other in their grief.”

The Stephensons are committed to advancing SIDS research and Jon’s Run recently donated $20,000 to support a study by Dr. Daniel Rubens, an anesthesiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and principal investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Rubens will investigate a possible association between SIDS and hearing abnormalities in newborns.

“We’re excited to support Dr. Rubens’ work and hope answers come from this research,” French-Stephenson said. Read full post »

A Steady Diet of Data to Keep Refugee Kids Healthy

Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn (left) and Dr. Anisa Ibrahim (right) study refugee children and nutrition.

Dr. Anisa Ibrahim was 6 in 1993 when her family came to Seattle from Somalia, driven from their country by civil war. In the beginning, everything about their new country was exciting and confusing — especially the supermarket.

“We were used to going to the market every day to buy fresh food,” recalls Ibrahim, now a third-year resident in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s. “It was hard to transition to buying bags and boxes of food in bulk.”

Foods the family relied on back home — like goat and guava — were not readily available. And snacks Ibrahim’s classmates pulled out of their lunchboxes — like cheese and Chex mix — were completely unfamiliar.

Unlike some refugees, Ibrahim and her siblings were healthy and well-nourished when they arrived. And thanks to her mom’s skill at cooking and adaptation, says Ibrahim, they stayed that way as they learned their way around the new food landscape.

As a doctor, Ibrahim wants to ensure other families can do the same. That’s why she carved out time during residency to work with Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn, a pediatrician and research fellow in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who is studying refugee children and nutrition. Read full post »