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.
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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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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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 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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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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Liesel Von Imhof will graduate from Harvard with a degree in stem cell biology in May 2021, five years after Seattle Children’s neurosurgeons removed her brain tumor.
As a high school freshman, Liesel Von Imhof had a dream of attending college at Harvard. She packed her schedule with challenging classes and participated in varsity sports such as cross-country running and cross-country skiing. She had occasional, debilitating headaches that sometimes caused her to miss school, but she blamed them on stress, dehydration or low blood sugar.
In July 2016, just before her senior year of high school, Liesel’s dream of Harvard was almost derailed when doctors found the reason for her headaches: a Ping-Pong ball-sized tumor in the middle of her brain.
At the urging of her doctors, Liesel, then age 17, and her parents traveled from their home in Anchorage, Alaska, to Seattle Children’s.
Thanks to the care she received here, the support of her family and friends, and her own determination, Liesel is graduating from Harvard this month with a degree in stem cell biology — her first step toward a career in medicine.
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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 »
In March 2021, Harper Chittim became the first patient to receive a cell therapy product manufactured at Building Cure.
Building Cure and Seattle Children’s Therapeutics are devoted to developing innovative therapies for childhood disease. Meet the first patient to receive a cell therapy treatment produced at Building Cure.
When Building Cure opened in fall 2019, Meagan Hollingshead and Josh Chittim had more pressing concerns. Their normally energetic 6-month-old daughter Harper was sick, and multiple visits to their doctor in Yakima had provided no answers.
But when Harper’s condition worsened and she started struggling to breathe, they took her to the emergency room, where bloodwork revealed the devastating cause: Harper had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
The doctor immediately sent them to Seattle Children’s.
“Meagan and Harper flew over to Seattle Children’s,” Chittim said. “And I drove there at 110 miles an hour.”
At that point, Hollingshead and Chittim weren’t aware Building Cure existed. They didn’t know how important the building, and the Seattle Children’s Therapeutics team it houses, would become to Harper’s future. And they had no idea Harper would receive the first cell therapy product manufactured there. Read full post »
This past year, as many individuals sought health care through telemedicine, a question formed in Dr. Gina Sequeira’s mind. As the co-director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children’s, her mission is to make gender-affirming care accessible for all youth, and so the capabilities of telehealth are rightfully an exciting new territory to explore. With the growth of telemedicine and its potential to improve access to care, Sequeira wanted to better understand gender diverse youths’ experiences with and satisfaction receiving virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published in Transgender Health, Sequeira, the lead author, found the majority of youth who participated in the study were satisfied with telemedicine and would be willing to use it again in the future. Although many said they preferred in-person visits, about 88% of gender diverse adolescents were satisfied with conducting gender clinic visits using telemedicine.
“Telemedicine has been a great way for us to support gender diverse youth and their families during the pandemic. Because of the limited number of pediatric gender-affirming care providers in the region, prior to the pandemic, many families experienced geographic and cost related barriers to receiving this care. We are hopeful that by continuing to offer gender clinic visits over telemedicine we will be able to overcome some of those barriers.” Sequeira said. Read full post »
At 16 years old, Mercy Haub, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. She just finished her last round of chemotherapy at Seattle Children’s.
Mercy chronicles her journey through Instagram.
Mercy Haub has wanted to cure cancer since she was 7 years old.
“The irony of it all is unbelievable,” she said.
Today, at 16 years old, that mission still drives her, but now it hits closer to home, more so than she could have ever imagined.
A week before the statewide lockdown went into effect in Washington, Mercy began to feel sick. An assortment of unusual symptoms compounded on one another. She felt weak and fatigued, experienced chest pain and rashes. The symptoms persisted and eventually doctors were able to determine the insidious cause: cancer. Read full post »