Research

All Articles in the Category ‘Research’

Researchers Find Possible Key to Limiting Side Effects From T-Cell Immunotherapy

Dr. Rebecca Gardner, oncologist and lead investigator for Seattle Children's T-cell immunotherapy trial for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Dr. Rebecca Gardner, oncologist and lead investigator for Seattle Children’s PLAT-02 trial.

T-cell immunotherapy continues to take center stage as one of the most promising new cancer therapies of our time. After receiving the therapy, which reprograms a person’s own T cells to detect and destroy cancer, 93% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who enrolled in Seattle Children’s Pediatric Leukemia Adoptive Therapy (PLAT-02) trial and were unlikely to survive, achieved complete remission. Some are still in remission now more than two years out from the therapy.

This is a message that Dr. Rebecca Gardner, oncologist and lead investigator for the PLAT-02 trial at Seattle Children’s, will be underscoring in her abstract presentations at The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. However, she will also highlight that there is still work to be done, and will present a possible answer to one of the most challenging puzzles facing researchers in the field: How can we limit the possible side effects of the treatment while retaining the effectiveness of the T cells?

“We are in a pivotal time where we know this therapy works in getting patients who are very sick into remission, but now we’re focusing on how to improve the treatment experience, which includes limiting the possible side effects,” said Gardner. “Our latest results mark an exciting milestone where we have potentially found the key to better controlling the body’s reaction to the T cells while still ensuring efficacy.” Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Launches STEM Internships at Research Institute

STEM interns

STEM interns Frewoin Berga and Jennifer Khuc in the lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

At Seattle Children’s Research Institute, doctors and researchers work every day to develop treatments and cures for childhood diseases. With the launch of the Seattle Children’s STEM internships for high school students this year, young people became scientific investigators themselves, working side by side with researchers in the lab.

As part of the new program, eight high school students from around Western Washington learned to use lab equipment, met with mentors and gained valuable research experience.

“I got a good snapshot of what research looks like,” said Kevin Nguyen, 18. “We learned all the nitty-gritty details, like how to maintain a pristine lab notebook, why it’s important to label your test tubes and the developmental phases of research — going from clinical trial to FDA approval.” Read full post »

New SIDS Research Shows Carbon Dioxide, Inner Ear Damage May Play Important Role

Dr. Daniel Rubens published a new study that shows the buildup of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage may be linked to SIDS.

Dr. Daniel Rubens published a new study that shows the buildup of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage may be linked to SIDS.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) may be linked to the build up of carbon dioxide and existing inner ear damage according to a new study in the journal Neuroscience. Author Dr. Daniel Rubens, an anesthesiologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says the finding could help researchers understand the sequence of events and risk factors that lead to SIDS deaths.

“This is potentially an important breakthrough in understanding the biological underpinnings of what may be causing SIDS,” Rubens said. “We found that exposure to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and inner ear damage in mice resulted in a lack of movement toward safety and fresh air during sleep. We want to fine tune this discovery and study the connection to carbon dioxide in more detail.” Read full post »

New Media Guidelines for Kids Move Beyond Screen Time Limits

New media policies from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend creating customized plans for your family’s media use.

In our digital age, it’s not uncommon to see a toddler on an iPad at the airport or a teenager at the mall fixated on a smartphone. To help families establish healthy habits for media use, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new media and screen time policies for children, from infants to teenagers.

The two new policies update previous recommendations and emphasize the importance of critical health behaviors such as sleep, cognitive development and physical activity. The policies recommend those daily priorities be addressed first, followed by mindful selection and engagement with media. Read full post »

New Trial Uses MRI to Study Obesity and Brain Signaling in Children

These images show brain scans of a normal weight child (top row) and an obese child (bottom row) before and after a meal. The blue in the top right image from a normal weight child indicates reduced activity in areas of the brain associated with hunger. The bottom right image shows similar brain activity in an obese child before and after eating, an indication there may be an issue in brain signaling to indicate hunger and fullness.

Are brain signals in obese children different than brain signals in normal weight children? Researchers at Seattle Children’s hope to answer that question with a new trial that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain signaling in children ages 9-11.

Dr. Christian Roth, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is overseeing a trial called the Brain Activation and Satiety in Children Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (BASIC fMRI) study to look at how the brain responds to food in children who are obese and those who are normal weight.

“Our goal is to understand why some children who are obese still feel hungry after eating a meal,” Roth said. “We want to understand this tendency to overeat in more detail and get insight into the brain signals that cause it.” Read full post »

Researcher Launches Childhood Chemical Exposure Study With NIH

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana says there are thousands of chemicals used in products that are consumed by the public, but there is little information about how most of them impact human health.

Babies and children are exposed to chemicals when they play, eat and go outside, and a $157 million new initiative launched by the National Institutes of Health aims to create a comprehensive understanding of how chemicals and environmental factors like air pollution impact childhood development.

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatric environmental health researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was selected as one of the principle investigators whose focus is chemical exposures.

“We have very little data about how most chemicals impact fetal and childhood development,” Sathyanarayana said. “This national study will give us a clearer understanding of how chemical exposures impact child health and what researchers, policymakers and parents should be most concerned about.” Read full post »

Bioethicist Studies Native American Attitudes Toward Genetic Research

Dr. Nanibaa' Garrison is a bioethicist who studies attitudes and perspectives towards genetic research among Native American populations.

Dr. Nanibaa’ Garrison is a bioethicist who studies attitudes and perspectives towards genetic research among Native American populations.

Dr. Nanibaa’ A. Garrison, a faculty member in the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, studies ethical issues surrounding genetic research with Native American communities. She is also a member of the Navajo Nation, so her professional field of research is closely linked to her personal background.

She sat down with On the Pulse for a Q&A about her bioethics research and clinical interests.

How did you get interested in this type of research?

I became interested in bioethical issues in genetics when I saw that tribes were hesitant to participate in this type of research. I’m a member of the Navajo Nation, where I was born and raised. I was aware of the cultural issues and history surrounding Native Americans and medical research, and I wanted to bridge both worlds using my scientific training. Read full post »

A Miracle in the Making

Greta Oberhofer’s leukemia is in remission thanks to T-cell immunotherapy developed at Seattle Children’s.

Greta Oberhofer survived a bone marrow transplant for leukemia when she was just 8 months old — but the side effects nearly killed her. Then, six months later, her family’s worst fears came to life.

“My husband put the doctor on speaker phone — he told me Greta relapsed and that her prognosis was bad,” remembers her mother, Maggie Oberhofer. “She had already suffered so much with the chemotherapy and transplant, and we didn’t want to put her through that again. We didn’t know what to do.”

The Oberhofers — who live in Portland — were considering hospice for Greta. Then they heard that Seattle Children’s Dr. Rebecca Gardner was testing a therapy that uses reprogrammed immune cells to attack certain kinds of leukemia.

“Dr. Gardner said not to give up because her therapy was putting kids like Greta in remission, and that the side effects were often a lot easier to tolerate,” Oberhofer says. “We suddenly had a way forward.”

A few months later, the Oberhofers watched Greta’s reprogrammed cells drip into her body. Two weeks after that, her cancer was in remission.

Read full post »

Tumor Paint Brings Light to Toddler’s Brain Tumor

Hunter Coffman, 2, with his family.

Hunter Coffman, 2, with his family.

In December of last year, Laura Coffman began to notice that something wasn’t quite right with her 2-year-old son, Hunter. He was leaning to one side and seemed to lose his balance easily. When he became lethargic and started vomiting a few days later on Dec. 28, she knew it was time to see the pediatrician.

After all standard tests came back normal, they were sent to Seattle Children’s for further testing and to find an answer. Unfortunately, it was far worse than anything Coffman could have imagined.

“What I thought was probably just Hunter being a wobbly toddler with a virus turned out to be a brain tumor,” said Coffman. “I will never forget that day. It was the most traumatic six hours of our lives.” Read full post »

Researchers Identify Better, Cost-Effective Depression Treatment for Teens

Researchers have identified a cost-effective way to treat depression in teens with a collaborative care approach.

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues a teenager can face. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 2.8 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2014, or 11.4% of adolescents that age.

Depression can create a huge cost burden on patients and institutions, and for teenagers that includes issues like missed school and the costs of healthcare for families. A new study in JAMA Pediatrics, led by Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Group Health Cooperative, identifies a cost-effective treatment that yields promising results for depressed teens.

“We used a collaborative care approach to treat teen depression, which included having a depression care manager who worked with the patient, family and doctors to develop a plan and support the teen in implementing that plan,” said Dr. Laura Richardson, an adolescent medicine physician and researcher at Seattle Children’s and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. “We were pleased to find that this collaborative approach was significantly more effective in treating depression than standard care with only a small increase in costs.” Read full post »