Research

All Articles in the Category ‘Research’

Seattle Children’s Welcomes Dr. Burt Yaszay as Chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

A man with a goatee smiling and wearing a lab coat and a shirt and tie.

Dr. Burt Yaszay is the new chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s.

Seattle Children’s is excited to welcome Dr. Burt Yaszay as the new chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Seattle Children’s. Yaszay comes to Seattle Children’s with a bright vision for the future as well as a deep respect for the roots in which Seattle Children’s was founded.

We sat down with Yaszay to learn more about his extensive expertise and vision for the program.

Yaszay earned his medical degree at Stanford University School of Medicine and did his residency in general and orthopedic surgery at the University of Washington and a fellowship at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. Yaszay most recently spent 14 years at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, which is nationally recognized as one of the best programs in the country.

He is excited to bring his expertise to Seattle Children’s and foster an environment of innovation and collaboration.

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Improving Hypospadias Outcomes Through Novel Research

A man wearing a suit and tie smiling.

Dr. Nicolas Fernandez, pediatric urologist at Seattle Children’s

Hypospadias (pronounced hype-oh-spay-dee-us) is a birth defect where the opening of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, is not located at the tip of the penis. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can affect the penile function and one’s self-perception. It is a common condition that can be treated with surgery in some cases; however, a decision to proceed with surgery needs to be carefully thought through and discussed among the provider, parents and patients.

The current standard treatment for hypospadias starts with the provider defining the severity of the condition. The severity is based on the location of the urethral meatus, the external opening of the urethra, and the penile curvature. Based on the severity,  some patients may be offered surgery as a next step. Surgery involves using local tissue from one part of the patient’s body to relocate the urethral opening to the correct position at the tip of the penis. To date, assessment of the tissue is subjective, and therefore, it is hard for surgeons to repeat the process moving forward.

Dr. Nicolas Fernandez, a pediatric urologist at Seattle Children’s and surgeon scientist at the University of Washington, is working on a research project that aims to reduce this subjectivity and explore new approaches to better assess structural and genetic components of the tissue used for surgery. He is doing so by proposing a novel approach to evaluate hypospadias.

By using technology to detect small genetic differences that can lead to big changes in an individual’s physical characteristics and by applying artificial intelligence on patients with hypospadias, providers can improve clustering of individuals with similar characteristics to ensure a more accurate prediction for treatment and surgery for this condition. This ultimately leads to better, more impactful outcomes for the patient and family.

Dr. Fernandez spoke with On the Pulse about his research.

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Seattle Children’s Researchers Discover that Nanobodies Could Pack the Biggest Punch Against COVID-19 Variants and Resurgence

Capralogics

When the worst pandemic of the century struck, a group of nine Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s scientists teamed up with researchers from Rockefeller University to innovate powerful tools for diagnosing and treating a virus that has claimed over 5 million lives.

In a recent study published in E-life, scientists from Seattle Children’s Aitchison, Sather, Myler and Debley labs, in collaboration with Rockefeller University’s Chait, Rout and Bieniasz labs, demonstrate how a unique group of antibodies, known as nanobodies, could become an exceptional resource for superior COVID-19 protective and therapeutic interventions, as well as bring hope for effective treatment of diseases most commonly found in low-resource countries.

Antibodies are produced by our bodies as a protective response to bacteria, viruses and foreign substances in our blood. Nanobodies are fragments of antibodies produced by llamas and other members of the camelid family. Nanobodies are ten times smaller than human antibodies, they are remarkably robust and they are readily “humanized” for use in diagnostic and therapeutic treatments. Nanobodies bind to viral-producing antigens in places not accessible to human antibodies and are considerably more thermo-resistant. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Research Division: Celebrating 15 Years of Innovation

For the past 15 years, Seattle Children’s Research Division has been at the forefront of breakthrough innovations. From new drugs to treat cystic fibrosis, to first-in-the-nation use of laser ablation for epilepsy and brain tumors to remove unwanted cells, the research division is advancing our mission to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.

Here, we take a look at some of the achievements of the past decade-and-a-half.

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Seattle Children’s Looks to Become “Center of Excellence” In Gene and Cell Therapy

Recent breakthroughs in cell and gene therapy research within Seattle Children’s Research Division, which includes both Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Therapeutics, has contributed to the creation of new technologies, new companies and – researchers hope –will lead to a range of new treatments and cures for pediatric diseases down the line.

Cell and gene therapy has become an increasingly popular form of therapeutic treatment and research in recent years.

“It has really become a third pillar of therapeutic treatment behind small molecules and monoclonal antibodies – cell therapy is here to stay and it’s growing exponentially as more capabilities are developed,” said Dr. Brian Phillips, director of the Intellectual Property Core at Seattle Children’s, which aims to help Seattle Children’s researchers and clinicians commercialize their intellectual property. Read full post »

Scientists Search for the Cause of Their Son’s Epilepsy

The phone call came at 2 a.m. It was a neonatologist calling about Kimberly Aldinger and Scott Houghtaling’s son, Grayson. Kimberly had given birth to premature twins a month earlier and both babies were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Swedish Hospital. The new parents had returned home to get a much-needed night of sleep when the doctor left a message on their voicemail.

Child boy in booster seat

Kimberly Aldinger and Scott Houghtaling’s son, Grayson (pictured here), began having seizures when he was just 24 days old. Now, his parents are using their scientific expertise to try to find the cause of his epilepsy.

“I’m really worried about Grayson,” the doctor said. “He’s having a massive seizure. You need to come down here.”

Scott immediately feared the worst. “I thought, the only reason they’d call in the middle of the night was if they were preparing for the worst outcome — Grayson not surviving.”

Thankfully, the medical team was able to stop Grayson’s seizure that night, but it was just the beginning of Kimberly and Scott’s journey to understand the severity of their son’s brain damage and how it would shape all their lives.

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Research Shows Seattle Children’s Pioneering Immunotherapy Trial May Be Feasible to Combat Pediatric Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

An innovative clinical trial led by Dr. Nicholas Vitanza,  a neuro-oncologist at Seattle Children’s, shows promise that delivering cancer-fighting chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells directly to the brain for children and young adults with recurrent or refractory brain and central nervous system (CNS) tumors may be feasible and tolerable.

The results, published today in Nature Medicine, are the initial findings from Seattle Children’s Therapeutics’ BrainChild-01 immunotherapy clinical trial. BrainChild-01 is the first of three such trials seeking to comprehensively target all types of pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors.

Seattle Children’s Therapeutics is a unit in the research division at Seattle Children’s and is taking promising CAR T cell immunotherapies forward to the first clinical trials of their kind for children. As a novel non-profit therapeutic 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.

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Seattle Children’s Team Takes a Resilient Approach to Science Education Amid the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic first led to a pivot to online instruction in the spring of 2020, the Science Education Department at Seattle Children’s Research Institute was forced to hit pause on in-person programming.

However, thanks to an investment in high-quality equipment and the creativity and adaptability of the Science Education team, the programs have been able to thrive in a virtual format.

Transition to virtual

To pivot to a virtual format, the team purchased a video camera and lighting equipment to make the lessons feel professional, says Dr. Amanda Jones, senior director of education initiatives at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Read full post »

Seattle Children’s Researchers Discover That Functional COVID-19 Antibodies Are Lost Quickly After Mild Cases

Seattle Children’s researchers have published a study that has uncovered a deeper understanding of why people who have had mild cases of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) lose functional antibodies within a few months.

Last year, while seeing the bulk of research analysis focused on severe cases of COVID-19, a team of researchers led by Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, the largest pediatric infectious disease research center in the country, sought to evaluate the immune responses that occur after people recover from more mild cases of COVID-19. Mild cases, researchers say, are the most common type of cases. Published in Cell Reports Medicine, a team of researchers found that while antibodies did persist over time, they were not the functional antibodies needed to protect someone from reinfection.

The study evaluated a cohort of 34 adults, ranging in age from 24-74 for up to six months. It characterizes antibody responses to infection and does not investigate T cell or vaccine responses. Antibody responses to vaccination are likely to behave very differently and have different longevity.

At first, researchers found a sustained and maturing presence of an antibody called Immunoglobulin G (IgG) among participants, which should normally mean protection from infection of a virus would improve, says Dr. Noah Sather, a principal investigator at  Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Washington.

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Navigating the Digital World and Play During the Pandemic

In 2020, the TODAY Show featured Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, in a story about the evolving digital age and the effect media has on children and their developing minds. A year later, Jake Ward, NBC News correspondent, is following up to learn more about how the pandemic has impacted the use of digital devices. Watch as Ward and Christakis explore again the intersection between a child’s development and the digital world.

The below article features a family navigating the challenges of media usage during the pandemic and their participation in a study led by Christakis to better understand play-based activities.

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