On the Pulse

Engineered T Cells for Type 1 Diabetes Move Closer to Clinic

Dr. Jane Buckner of the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason and Dr. David Rawlings of Seattle Children’s Research Institute are leading gene editing research to develop new therapies for autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes.

For much of the last decade, Dr. David Rawlings, director of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, has dreamed of developing a therapy for children with type 1 diabetes that doesn’t involve insulin injections but uses a person’s own immune cells to target and treat the disease.

Now, new research and a fresh infusion of funding bring this dream closer to reality, and nearer to opening a first-in-human clinical trial of an experimental therapy at Seattle Children’s in collaboration with research partner Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI).

“What started as a dream is now within reach,” Rawlings said. “My hope is that our research will lead to a new treatment that turns off the destructive immune response leading to development of type 1 diabetes in children.” Read full post »


June 1, 2020: Seattle Children’s Statement on Acts of Racism Across the U.S.

We are writing to acknowledge the tragic acts of violence and racism happening across our country.

The senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minnesota leave us sickened and heartbroken. While we share our grief with these families and their communities, we must also acknowledge with sorrow our region’s own history of racially motivated violence, discrimination, and marginalization.

These recent events are set against the backdrop and acute pain of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color in the United States. Added to the burden of this crisis are the magnifying health and economic disparities, which are due to systemic racism and social injustices that have existed for far too long across generations.

These are the moments we cannot be silent—and Seattle Children’s will speak out, oppose racism, and advance our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. We are all affected negatively when one part of our community is burdened by racism and violence, and we are all part of the solution.

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Get Care When Your Child Needs It

My two-year-old son Malachi is a medically-complex Seattle Children’s kiddo and a “frequent flyer” here at the hospital. We visit the hospital often—for clinic appointments, routine procedures, sicknesses and medical emergencies. Malachi was diagnosed with Spina Bifida before he was born. He had several lifesaving operations in his first few months with us including spine and brain surgeries on his first two days of life.

Moving to get the care we needed

Malachi, his dad, and I currently live in Auburn, Wash., however we didn’t always live in Auburn. We moved from Yakima to be closer to the care Malachi needs. After two emergency air flights in two weeks just after Malachi’s first birthday, we made the decision to relocate to Auburn.

Like most parents who have medically complex kids, we were kind of pros at social distancing even before COVID-19.

As the parent of a medically complex kiddo, the current pandemic is especially concerning. We were especially cautious early this spring as news of the impact of the virus began to spread. We went into complete isolation—no one in or out of our home—on March 12. Like many parents in our situation, my husband and I were intent on doing everything possible to avoid a hospital admission. We both began working from home. We cancelled all clinic appointments and, instead, opted for telemedicine appointments with my son’s providers. Telemedicine has been so incredibly helpful for us but some things demand in-person care.

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Using Your Words to Support Those with Mental Health Conditions

As a teenager, Javi Barria struggled with anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide, and spent time at Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit. Barria thinks being mindful of language is one simple thing others can do to support those with mental health conditions.

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Talking about mental health can be a challenge for anyone. Though terms like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and bipolar disorder have made their way into our vocabularies, they’re often used as adjectives to describe behavior, like, “I keep changing my mind about what to wear, I’m so bipolar,” reflecting a lack of understanding of the complexities and challenges facing those living with the condition. Read full post »


Are Children Making Antibodies That Will Protect Against Future COVID-19 Infections?

More than 50 research studies to understand, detect, treat and prevent the novel coronavirus in children and families have launched at Seattle Children’s since the virus emerged in late 2019. The following post is part of the “Quest(ion) for Discovery” series highlighting this research in progress and the search for answers that could result in major scientific breakthroughs that save lives and slow the spread of the virus.

When Dr. Janet Englund, a member of the Center for Clinical Translational Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, received news in late February that a Seattle Children’s patient had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and represented the first example of community transmission in Washington state, she knew things as we knew them were never going to be the same.

Englund, who has long studied respiratory viruses and their transmission in children and frequently provides her expertise as part of national scientific advisory panels, believed we were facing something very different from any pandemic Seattle – or the world for that matter – had ever seen before.

She and her collaborators quickly proposed supplements to their existing studies primarily focused on seasonal influenza, so they could begin to learn about how the new coronavirus impacts children. One study, which she discusses in greater detail here, asks: Are children making antibodies that will protect against future COVID-19 infections? Read full post »


New Program Helps Families with Mental Health Crises

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

One late afternoon in April, Jessie Early noticed something was wrong her with 7-year-old son, Rohan.

He stopped eating, was withdrawing, and exhibiting suicidal thoughts.

Extremely concerned, Early rushed her son to Seattle Children’s Emergency Department (ED), as recommended by Rohan’s psychiatrist at the time.

Within just a few minutes in the waiting room, Rohan was sent directly to one of the patient rooms for evaluation.

What could have been a stressful and trauma inducing experience for Rohan, Early was pleasantly surprised with the attentiveness and support that the staff provided her son.

“There was always someone there to answer our questions,” Early said. “It made it so we were relaxed and informed. Staff would ask him questions in a respectful and polite way, even though some of questions were difficult for him answer. They were there for us every step of the way.”

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Pandemic Catapults Rapid Expansion of Telehealth Care

Jessica Carey’s family has received care for her twin sons at the Seattle Children’s Autism Center for about four years. She transitioned to telehealth in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth refers to a broad spectrum of remote technological healthcare services, which may include non-clinical services, while telemedicine is the practice of delivering clinical care from a distance via technology.

“At first the idea of telehealth seemed daunting because it’s a lot of work for parents, but it’s actually a really nice way to be able to move practice to home from a clinical setting while still receiving support from a professional,” Carey said. “It also saves on travel time and expenses which is really positive.”

Since many appointments were cancelled or postponed, she added, “Being able to at least see our providers at Seattle Children’s helps keep consistency in my boys’ days.”

Carey is just one of thousands of families who have recently experienced Seattle Children’s rapidly expanded telehealth services to ensure children get the medical care they need during an era of travel restrictions and “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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How Might COVID-19 Reshape this Generation of Children?

More than 50 research studies to understand, detect, treat and prevent the novel coronavirus in children and families have launched at Seattle Children’s since the virus emerged in late 2019. The following post is part of the “Quest(ion) for Discovery” series highlighting this research in progress and the search for answers that could result in major scientific breakthroughs that save lives and slow the spread of the virus.

An expert in screen time for children, Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, leads a team of researchers out of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development. In a recently published editorial in JAMA Pediatrics, Christakis argues that it’s critical to focus on overlooked decisions, such as the return to school, in the wake of the COVID-19 surge because of its lasting implications for children.

Here, he shares research his team has proposed to understand some of the effects of COVID-19 on child development and wellness while addressing the question: How might COVID-19 reshape this generation of children? Read full post »


Should Schools Go Screen-Free: Study Reveals Significant Portion of U.S. Middle and High Schools Do Not Limit Phone Use During Lunch or Recess

The latest screen-time related research from Dr. Pooja Tandon, a child health and development expert at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was inspired by her oldest son.

“When my son entered middle school, I learned that students in many middle and high schools were allowed to have their phones with them at all times,” Tandon said. “I looked into this a bit more and found that even in schools where policies limited use during class, cell phones could still be used unrestricted during lunch and recess.”

This struck Tandon, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, whose research focuses on promoting healthy active and outdoor play for children and teens.

“My fellow pediatricians and I follow guidelines that recommend children and teens enjoy two hours of age-appropriate recreational screen time a day,” she said. “Yet, many children may be spending most of their waking hours in school with what could be unsupervised and unrestricted access to their phones.” Read full post »


Alyssa Tears Down the Taboo of Having Mental Health Struggles

In recognition of Mental Health Month, On the Pulse will be sharing valuable resources and inspiring patient stories each week to guide individuals and families struggling with mental health issues and help destigmatize the topic of mental health in our society.

Alyssa Scott, 17, is a senior in high school. She’s an honor student, participates in her school’s Model United Nations program and is currently taking college-level classes.

By her positive demeanor and ambitious attitude, you would think she’s just like any regular teen.

But there’s more to Alyssa than meets the eye.

Like many individuals, Alyssa lives with mental health issues.

“Even though people might not see it, I struggle every day,” Alyssa said. “Some days are worse than others, but it’s always there.”

For Alyssa, there’s been many obstacles she’s faced in life that have molded her relationship with her mental health. Yet with her strong sense of will and determination, she’s come to a point in her life where she can keep her struggles at bay.

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