On the Pulse

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 »

Teen Discovers Talent In Punching Bag After Losing Use Of Legs

Dr. Michael Astion coached Isaac Turnbull in speed bag while the teen was in the Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Unit.

After his all-terrain vehicle crashed near his home in Wasilla, Alaska, in March, Isaac Turnbull had the presence of mind to call his dad. He was okay, he said, except for one thing: He couldn’t feel his legs.

Isaac, 16, soon learned that he had fractured his back and injured his spinal cord. In a split second, he lost the use of his legs.

After three weeks in an Anchorage hospital, Isaac came to Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Unit to continue his recovery and begin to learn the skills he would need to live in a wheelchair.

“When he got here he was feeling pretty hopeless — you could see it all over his face,” said occupational therapist Emily Sabelhaus, who worked with Isaac.

The goal of rehabilitation is to help patients find a way to get back to the activities they love, Sabelhaus said, but at first Isaac — an Alaska kid who loves to hunt and fish and be outdoors — couldn’t imagine how he would do that. He couldn’t see that his life, while different than he expected, could still be fulfilling and happy.

Halfway through his six-week stay on the rehab unit, Sabelhaus asked Isaac if he maybe wanted to punch something. Then she brought in an expert, Dr. Michael Astion, to show him how. Read full post »

Mom Donates a Kidney to a Stranger to Save Her Son as Part of a Life-Saving Kidney Chain

Nigel Dalton 008Belinda Hudson would do anything for her 18-year-old son, Nigel Dalton. So when he needed a kidney, she didn’t hesitate to offer one of her own.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t a match.

“I always thought I’d be able to give him mine,” said Hudson. “I’m his mom. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t a match. I felt so helpless.”

She was, however, a perfect match for someone else, a complete stranger. So again, without hesitation, she offered her kidney, and in return her son found a match as well.

And so, through the National Kidney Registry, a chain of six people and three kidneys was formed, all linked together by the gift of life. 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 »

Layers of Protection for Safe Water Fun

On the heels of the opening day of fishing season in late April, came the opening day of boating season and the start of the swimming season in May. With all of these water activities under way, it’s important that families understand how to keep their children safe.

In honor of National Water Safety Month, On The Pulse is shining the spotlight on water safety because every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of those that pass away, about two are children. In Washington state, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and teens age 1 to 17.

“Staying safe while in, on or around the water requires using layers of protection,” said Dr. Linda Quan, an emergency physician and drowning expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It’s not enough to have your child take a series or two of swim lessons when they’re in preschool. More skills and more attention are needed to help make your family’s time around the water safe and fun.”

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One Mom’s Journey Inspires Her to Build a Community for Kids and Families Affected by Pediatric Stroke

Addison

Addison, 3, suffered a stroke at birth.

Words can hit like a ton of bricks. For Kaysee Hyatt, it was four words that hit her so hard her world momentarily stopped.

At the start of a weekend camping trip with her family, she received a call from her doctor with the results of her daughter’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), “It was a stroke.” The world faded before Hyatt and the isolation of such a diagnosis set in, not only for her, but for her baby girl, Addison.

Before that moment, Hyatt had never heard of pediatric stroke, but as she would find out, it was not that uncommon. Approximately one in 2,000 newborns have a stroke each year. For children age 1 to 18, stroke occurs in about 1 out of every 20,000. Addison suffered her stroke during birth.

Addison’s family noticed something was wrong in her first few months of life; her mobility was limited and she completely favored her right side. When she was 6 months old, they received the diagnosis that explained why.

Stroke happens when blood that carries oxygen stops flowing to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells can begin to die, which can lead to stroke symptoms and can sometimes cause neurological issues or death. Read full post »

My Son Had Mental Illness

I love this picture of me and Chad on a dinner cruise in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Laura Crooks, director of Rehabilitation Medicine, shares how losing her son, Chad, sent Laura and her husband on a mission to eliminate the stigma around mental illness.

My son had mental illness.

It seems so strange to write those words. Instead, I want to write that he was creative and loving and gentle. I want people to know him as a big brother and a son who lived in a large and loving family. I want him to be famous for his dream of inventing bold new means of space travel. But today, the part of Chad’s life I am compelled to share is that he had mental illness.

Chad was diagnosed with schizophrenia in April 2015. One evening, not long after telling his father and me that he had been hearing voices, he became suicidal.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. I remember taking him in the car, his dad holding him in a blanket at 21 years old, just so he wouldn’t jump out of the car as we made the trip up Interstate 5 to the University of Washington Emergency Department.

I remember coaching Chad on what to say once we got there: to tell them he wouldn’t make it through the night if they let him go. I remember how hard it was as a mom to tell my son to say these things. But I also know the truth about limited resources for mental health, and that this was the only way for him to truly get help and to keep him safe.

Read full post »

The Dangers of Home Renovation: Keep Kids Safe During Repairs

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Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana says home renovations can expose mold, lead, asbestos and fumes, and families should take precautions to protect pregnant women and children.

Families planning home renovations should be aware that the walls they plan to tear down could contain hidden dangers that can hurt the developing fetus and children’s growing bodies.

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana is a pediatric environmental health specialist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and she says that people considering home renovations, especially in older homes, should take extra precautions if they are pregnant or have children.

“Home renovations can bring out things like dust, mold and fumes that are harmful to children and pregnant women,” Sathyanarayana said. “With a little extra planning, families can keep renovations safe for everyone in the home.” 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 »