From the discovery of stem cells that multiply after a lung injury, to new data that advances how we think about (and treat) childhood cancer, our first roundup of March is packed with discovery. Read on to learn how our researchers stay at the forefront of pediatric science with a new study that expands what scientists know about the body’s extraordinary ability to regenerate, a pan-cancer project that distinguishes how cancer develops in children versus adults, and a handful of updates on what our investigators have in store for the near future.
Lung Stem Cell Offers Target for Regenerative Medicine
The discovery of a new stem cell found in the lung could yield innovative treatments for children and adults with lung disease by harnessing the body’s remarkable power to regenerate. In a new Nature article published last week, a team of researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania described how the newly identified cells, known as alveolar epithelial progenitor (AEP) cells, had the ability to multiply rapidly after a pulmonary injury. The researchers identified AEP cells first in mice and then in humans.
The team had been mapping and studying the behavior of different types of cells within the alveoli — tiny air sacs inside our lungs that allow oxygen to move into our bloodstream and carbon dioxide to exit out of it. While examining how alveolar cells in mice responded to lung injury, the researchers found that a particular stem cell signaling pathway prompted the normally inactive AEP cells to multiply rapidly, differentiate into alveolar cells, and thus regenerate lung tissue.
“These cells sits quietly, but poised, in the lung until an injury activates them to proliferate and differentiate,” stated the study’s co-first author David Frank, MD, PhD, a pediatric cardiologist at CHOP, in a press release. “If we can learn to manipulate the biological signals in this process, we may be able to regenerate lung tissue in patients.”
With further research, the findings could lead to new treatments for children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and any patient with severe lung damage from influenza.
Philadelphia Hosts 2021 Congress of the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
In 2021, the world’s leading experts in thrombosis and hemostasis research will convene in Philadelphia for the Congress of the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) — an annual event held by the ISTH, a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the diagnosis of thrombotic and bleeding disorders. This week, the ISTH announced that our own Sriram Krishnaswamy, PhD, professor and Stokes Investigator in the Division of Hematology at CHOP, will act as congress chairman. Dr. Krishnaswamy will lead the organization and development of the 2021 event along with an organizing committee consisting of CHOP and Penn experts. The CHOP committee members include Rodney Camire, PhD, and Valder Arruda, MD, PhD, researchers in the Division of Hematology at CHOP, as well as Leslie Raffini, MD, director of the Hemostasis and Thrombosis Center at CHOP.
ISTH Congresses are a unique opportunity for global leaders to network and discuss new research and clinical applications designed to improve patient care. The ISTH dedicates “significant time” to selecting the locations of their Congress each year to have the greatest impact on the field, according to a press release.
“We are confident that these locations offer sophisticated environments for ISTH Congresses to host thousands of the world’s leading experts on thrombosis, hemostasis, and vascular biology and will help facilitate presentations of the most recent advances, exchanges of science and education, and discussion of the newest clinical applications designed to improve patient care,” stated Ingrid Pabinger, ISTH chairman of council.
Learn more in the press release.
Kristy Arbogast, PhD, Discusses Backseat Safety in the Washington Post
It’s no secret that investigators at our Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) are experts in child passenger safety. In a Washington Post story published last week, Kristy Arbogast, PhD, co-scientific director of CIRP, weighed in on why we should take buckled seatbelts in the back seat of a car just as seriously as we do in the front seat.
“While the rear seat retains its reputation as the safest part of the car, in reality that is now the front seat for adults and older teenagers,” said Dr. Arbogast in the article, citing the fact that front seat restraints have improved in recent years, with advanced lap and shoulder belts that reduce forces experienced in a crash.
At CHOP, Dr. Arbogast is working on a number of passenger safety research projects, including those that examine how to make child-restraint systems like backseat car seats the safest they can possibly be. Through the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChips), Dr. Arbogast currently acts as principal investigator of a multi-year project that tests different features of forward-facing car seats) — looking particularly at how well these seats protect children from side impact crashes.
CHOP Cancer Experts Co-Author First Pediatric Pan-Cancer Analysis
Children with cancer stand to benefit from more customized precision treatments and diagnostic panels specific to pediatric patients rather than those used for adults. These are just a few findings from the first pan-cancer analysis of children’s cancer published last week in Nature News and Comment, and co-authored by our physician-scientists at CHOP.
Pan-cancer analyses identify similarities and differences in development across diverse types of cancer in order to discover key insights for improved care. In this multi-institute study, researchers analyzed DNA samples from nearly 1,700 patients across five groups of pediatric cancers: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumor, and osteosarcoma. CHOP co-authors led the two largest datasets in the study, with Stephen Hunger, MD, chief of Oncology at CHOP, leading the team for ALL, and John M. Maris, MD, oncologist at CHOP leading the neuroblastoma team.
“This collaborative project proves the concept that childhood cancers are not ‘small adult tumors.’ They show unique genetic changes,” stated Dr. Maris in the press release. “Thus, precision diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for childhood cancers will be very different than those being developed for common adult malignancies.”
To learn more about the analysis and its findings, read the press release.
CAR Research Assistant Awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarship
A warm congratulations to Stepheni Uh, a clinical research assistant at the Center for Autism Research, who recently received the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. First established with a $210 million gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the award funds graduate study at England’s University in Cambridge for students who demonstrate outstanding intellectual ability, leadership, and a commitment to helping others. At CAR, Uh is helping to develop a centralized database for various biomarkers of autism that could one day lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
“This is an amazing opportunity, and I’m extremely grateful for this scholarship,” Uh said. “My continuing education will help me get closer to my goal of promoting well-being.”
Learn more in the press release.
Recently on Cornerstone, we published a new blog post about what neuroblastoma expert and pediatric oncologist Dr. Maris plans to do with his National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award, shared a guest blog from David Stokes, PhD, technical director of the Biorepository Core Facility, about the benefits of biobanking for rare disease research, explored the wide world of the microbiome with the two CHOP recipients of PennCHOP Microbiome funding, and took a snapshot of new research into the genetic mutations behind vitamin D-dependent rickets (VDDR).
Catch up on our headlines from our Feb. 23 edition of In the News:
- Experts Convene in Scottsdale for Cardiology 2018
- Martha Curley, PhD, RN, Embarks on New Pediatric Nursing Role
- Hearing Loss Common After Infant Heart Surgery
- Can Vehicle Decals Improve Young Driver Safety?
- Parents of Children With Food Allergies Admit to Risky Behavior
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