Our news highlights from this week cover some provocative topics in pediatric research, from serious teen violence in Philadelphia neighborhoods to head trauma injuries in student athletes across the country. Read on for details about the latest research developments and projects at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Location, Location, Location
CNN reported on a study published in JAMA Pediatrics about a unique research project that looked at more than a dozen different features in Philadelphia neighborhoods where teen homicides took place. A study team then compared those areas to neighborhoods where 155 control teenagers, who were not homicide victims, were located at about the same time as the crimes.
The presence of streetlights, illuminated crosswalk signs, public transportation, parks, and well-maintained vacant lots were associated with lower risk of teen homicide, but more intervention studies are needed to test whether modifying different neighborhood features can directly help to bring down rates of teen violence.
“Because this study is a snapshot in time, we don't know whether these environmental elements caused homicide reductions or whether we are picking up markers of other things going on in the neighborhood,” Alison J. Culyba, MD, told CNN. Dr. Culyba is an advanced research fellow in the Craig Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine at CHOP.
Read more about the study on Cornerstone.
Intermingling for Innovation
The South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, an annual event that aims to promote intellectual and creative intermingling among film, music, media, and technology innovators, has attracted several CHOP staffers, including VP of entrepreneurship and innovation Patrick FitzGerald, according to Technical.ly Philly.
CHOP is a leading partner in the annual Impact Pediatric Health Pitch Competition at SXSW, which is looking for innovative solutions that address the unique challenges of pediatrics. The finalists will have three minutes to present their start-up to judges and the audience at SXSW March 14.
“This event fosters collaboration long after March, among hospitals, healthcare stakeholders, venture capitalists, and technology innovators, all with the end goal of helping our patients get and stay healthy,” FitzGerald stated in a December press release announcing the competition.
Advancing Neuroblastoma Combination Therapies
A research team at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research gave a shout out to Yael Mossé, MD, a CHOP pediatric oncologist, for sharing her neuroblastoma expertise and helping them to explore a combination therapy that uses the MYCN gene to kill the cancer, instead of making it grow.
In a study that appeared in the journal Cancer Cell, VCU’s Anthony Faber, PhD, described how they discovered that two investigational drugs, MLN8237 and ABT-199, complement each other and are very effective at killing neuroblastoma tumors in laboratory experiments and advanced mouse models.
“Fortunately, our primary collaborator, Yael Mossé at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), treats a high volume of these patients and has been a trailblazer for developing targeted therapies, including MLN8237, in neuroblastoma,” Dr. Faber said. “We also have a good relationship with the drug maker, Abbvie, that produces ABT-199; therefore, we believe we are in a good position to hopefully bring the ABT-199/MLN8237 combination into the clinic at CHOP. In addition, we are also exploring ABT-199 as a chemosensitizer (makes cells more sensitive to chemotherapy) in MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas with Mossé’s team.”
Read more about Dr. Mossé’s latest neuroblastoma research here.
Consortium Tackling Concussion Research
CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania will be joining a $30 million research project, paid for by the NCAA and the Department of Defense, to study 25,000 student athletes and sports-related head trauma, according to a press release.
The Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium Grand Alliance Clinical Study Core, which launched in 2014, is committed to conducting research to make student-athletes safer. It started with 21 institutions and then recently added nine more schools. One of the study’s main goals is to fully describe the natural history of concussions, from the time the injury occurs, through recovery and reentry to playing sports. The investigators also want to understand why some athletes with concussions suffer long-term effects while others do not.
“Our Minds Matter Concussion Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has learned a tremendous amount about concussions in student-athletes over the last five years through collaborative efforts between CHOP Sports Medicine and Performance Center and our Center for Injury Research and Prevention,” stated Christina Master, MD, a sports medicine pediatrician at CHOP and associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine. “We look forward to extending this knowledge in collaboration with our colleagues at Penn as we contribute to this important and historic national initiative by the NCAA.”
Read more about other concussion research at CHOP.