On the Pulse

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 »

Honoring Ambassador Chris Stevens: New Medical Exchange Creates Cultural Understanding Across Borders

Ambassador Chris Stevens

Ambassador Chris Stevens’ life was formed by global experiences, and a new endowment in his memory at Seattle Children’s intends to preserve his legacy by connecting pediatricians in Seattle with pediatricians abroad.

When Dr. Anne Stevens thinks of her brother, she remembers his wide-eyed awe about the world around him. That love of discovery is what led her brother, former Ambassador Chris Stevens, to a career in diplomacy with the U.S. State Department.

“Chris was a big believer in international exchange and experiences,” said Stevens, a pediatric rheumatologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “His life was formed by global experiences, and he also inspired my little brother, sister and I to learn foreign languages and study abroad.”

Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans died in the line of service during a tragic attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

Now, a newly funded endowment at Seattle Children’s will preserve his legacy of cultural understanding with a medical exchange that connects pediatricians in Seattle to pediatricians abroad through an intensive training and education program. Read full post »

Living My Life in the Now

morgan_lead_printMorgan Wood has been coming to Seattle Children’s since he was born — and as an adult, he continues to benefit from recreational and social skills classes at the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center.

He is known among both friends and providers for sharing his life mantras, which he developed to work through challenges related to living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Below, Morgan shares six of his mantras and other interesting insights from his life experience.

My name is Morgan Wood and I’m 26 years old. I was born very premature, weighing 729 grams, which is less than two pounds. Because of my weight and a bad infection I had at birth, they tell me I’m sort of a miracle. 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 »

Baby Born with Rare, Life-Threatening Skin Condition Celebrates Her First Birthday

harper-1-year

Harper Foy was diagnosed with an extremely rare skin condition at birth.

Every routine pregnancy check up had gone well. Angie Foy’s baby had a strong heartbeat, 10 fingers, 10 toes and a cute button nose. There was never any indication something was wrong. So, when the day finally arrived almost a year ago, and Foy started feeling contractions, she and her husband rushed to the hospital feeling excited.

Unfortunately, their excitement soon turned into something else: disbelief.

“We were thrown into a whirlwind,” said Angie Foy.

“I’ll forever remember that moment,” said Foy’s husband, Kevin Foy. “Everything was normal. The doctor told me to get my camera out and take a picture. And then everything just became quiet.”

The world around them stopped, right before chaos erupted. 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 »

Tips for a Safe Halloween

Boo! Halloween is on a Monday this year, making it trickier to get in all of the treat-gathering fun. However, you can maximize your family’s enjoyment by planning ahead. Dr. Tony Woodward, chief of Emergency Medicine at Seattle Children’s, offers tips for how to safely celebrate what many kids consider to be the best holiday of the year.

“Halloween is a holiday that kids look forward to for weeks or even months in advance,” said Woodward. “I encourage families to think about safety as they start selecting costumes and making plans to celebrate with others. Taking steps before the big night, like agreeing on ground rules and ensuring costumes will be seen in the dark, provides more time to safely enjoy Halloween.” Read full post »

Mother Donates a Piece of Her Liver to Save Her Baby

Olivia was born with a rare disease of the liver. Doctors knew she would one day need a liver transplant.

Olivia was born with a rare disease of the liver.

Patricia Alva knew, even before her baby girl was born, that something was wrong. When she was pregnant, doctors detected a cyst on the baby’s stomach during an ultrasound.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Alva.

After she was born, doctors diagnosed baby Olivia with biliary atresia, a rare disease of the liver. It occurs when a baby’s bile ducts do not form normally. It occurs in about 1 in every 15,000 babies. 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 »