This image shows mouse red blood cells infected with Plasmodium parasites, the causative agent of malaria. The cells with the blue ring-like structures inside of them are the malaria parasite-infected red blood cells called Merozoites, which are the blood stage form of the parasite. CREDIT: University of Washington
Dr. David Rawlings knows how painful and devastating malaria is—he had it several times in his early 20s while teaching grade school in Kenya.
“It’s a horrible infection,” said Rawlings, director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “I had a high fever, severe headaches, chills and I couldn’t leave my house for days. I was fortunate to have medications that stopped the infection, but malaria these days is resistant to most of these drugs.”
Rawlings recovered from the bouts of malaria, but young children who get malaria are not always so lucky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 214 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide in 2015 and resulted in 438,000 deaths, most of them children in Africa. The disease is a parasitic infection spread through the bite of infected mosquitos.
Seeing his young students in Africa come down with malaria is what pushed Rawlings to become an immunologist. He wanted to find a cure.
Tranisha Arzah, 26, was born with HIV and works as an HIV educator.
People who acquire HIV can lose a critical function in their body: their immunity. Left untreated, HIV infects the immune system and disables a person’s ability to fight infections, which can turn the common cold into a death sentence. Antiviral treatment can prevent this from happening, but if medications are stopped the virus comes back almost immediately.
Currently, one out of every 200 American adults lives with HIV. As doctors, scientists and advocates gather in South Africa this week at the International AIDS Conference, researchers at Seattle Children’s have been thinking hard about how to kick HIV, and they have an ambitious goal: They want to develop an immunotherapy that harnesses the power of the immune system to kill and resist HIV.
“Immunotherapy has been successful in treating cancer and we’re optimistic that we can take that same technology and apply it to HIV,” said Dr. Thor Wagner, an infectious disease specialist and pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “The hope is that in the future we’ll be able to take an HIV-positive person’s T cells and re-engineer them to attack and resist the virus.” Read full post »
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics calls for action to reduce children’s exposure to violent video games and media. The report also calls on the gaming and media industries to create shows and games for children that do not contain violence.
Ewan Hart, 2, with his sister. Ewan was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease after he was hospitalized at Seattle Children’s when he developed a sudden fever that would not come down.
Some parents feed infants and children soy formula and products because they believe they are a healthy alternative to dairy, especially if a child is lactose intolerant. But new research published in the journal Nutrition Research shows that high soy consumption in infants and young children leads to an increased risk of Kawasaki disease, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in arteries and can result in irreversible and devastating damage to the heart.
Kawasaki disease affects about 7,000 infants and children in the U.S. each year. Although the disease can occur in children of all races, those of Asian descent are at substantially higher risk.
“It’s concerning that high consumption of foods like tofu, soy formula, edamame and other soy products is a risk factor for Kawasaki disease,” said Dr. Michael Portman, a pediatric cardiologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who was the lead author of the study. “This should be a concern for all families with young children, but particularly those of Asian heritage because their traditional diets use a lot of soy.” Read full post »
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 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 »
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 »
“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 »
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 »
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.
Seattle Children’s provides healthcare for the special needs of children regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex (gender), sexual orientation or disability. Financial assistance for medically necessary services is based on family income and hospital resources and is provided to children under age 21 whose primary residence is in Washington, Alaska, Montana or Idaho.