Ensuring the Continuity of Research to Improve Children’s Lives Amidst the Unexpected

Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is envisioning and testing next-generation cell and gene therapies for pediatric diseases so children have the medicines they deserve.

How Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is Navigating the Pandemic

When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, Seattle Children’s Therapeutics researcher Kaori Oda worried that her research work would be put on hold, or even worse, need to permanently end. Like most people, she was worried that she and her family might contract the virus, but she was also concerned that a slowdown would impact her team’s timeline for bringing a much-needed therapy to children with leukemia.

Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is a unit in the research division at Seattle Children’s. As a novel non-profit therapeutics development enterprise, it is devoted to envisioning and testing next-generation cell and gene therapies for pediatric diseases, so children have the medicines they deserve.

The Seattle Children’s Therapeutics team has designed, manufactured and launched a robust portfolio of cellular immunotherapy clinical trials for childhood cancer since 2012 in the areas of leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors and solid tumors. The team plans to expand its focus to other childhood diseases that are amenable to treatment using genetic and cellular therapies. Read full post »

Scientist Brings First-Hand Perspective to Fight Against Malaria

Drs. Nana Minkah (back) and Deba Goswami are working with their Kappe Lab colleagues to develop a vaccine for malaria.

Growing up in Ghana, a sub-Saharan country on the west coast of Africa, Dr. Nana Minkah, a scientist at the Kappe Lab, endured the unenviable “rite of passage” contracting malaria multiple times as a child.

While he doesn’t remember the early years when the associated high fever caused hallucinations, he has distinct memories of later bouts when he was bedridden for more than a week with pain and chills so bad his body visibly shivered.

The multiple malaria infections Minkah endured in his youth is common to those living in sub-Saharan Africa where the mosquito-transmitted parasitic infection is one of the deadliest diseases in human history. Despite tremendous attempts to rid the world of the malaria pathogens, it continues to sicken hundreds of millions and kills nearly half a million people each year. Malaria’s biggest toll is on children and pregnant women in developing countries.

That’s why, after Minkah completed his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, he joined the Kappe Lab in 2015. Although he had no experience in parasitology, he wanted to work on malaria — a disease that continues to plague his homeland.

“I wanted to do work that has clinical implications with the potential to save the lives of people who look like me,” Minkah explained. Read full post »