At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we know innovation sometimes requires a second look at seemingly harmless practices and a willingness to break out of the status quo. In this edition of In the News, learn how an unnecessary emergency room visit prompted Christopher Bonafide, MD, to examine the use of physiological monitors for healthy infants, and read about a bold move toward future innovation with the grand opening of our new Clinical Manufacturing Facility for precision medical tools. Additionally, the Center for Child Injury and Prevention Studies’ Annual Report highlights important safety work with real-world implications, a new Penn-CHOP collaboration aims to investigate nutritional interventions to treat disease, and a CHOP patient gets the surprise of a lifetime in the name of autism awareness.
Research Finds Physiological Monitors Unnecessary for Healthy Infants
Beyond a simple tool that enables parents to see and/or hear their baby from another room, today’s infant monitors offer high-tech features that measure vital signs and claim to provide parents with insights into their infant’s health.
Through wireless electronics integrated into socks, leg bands, buttons, onesies or diaper clips, sensors send data to parents’ smartphones using Bluetooth technology. They have the capability to measure a baby’s respiration, pulse rate and blood-oxygen levels, and then send an alert to parents’ smartphones if something appears out of normal range.
While this sounds like positive addition to parents’ baby gear, a recent study led by Christopher P. Bonafide, MD, MSCE, a pediatrician and safety expert at CHOP, found serious concerns with the accuracy of such monitors. Dr. Bonafide decided to study these monitors in 2013, when an infant was admitted to CHOP after a monitor the parents were using alarmed; a thorough evaluation found the child was healthy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) already cautions against such monitors, claiming they are not shown to have any role in preventing sudden infant death syndrome or related issues, nor have they been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (For babies who have serious heart/lung illnesses that do require monitoring, there are hospital-grade devices cleared by the FDA and prescribed by pediatricians.)
Dr. Bonafide and his fellow researchers wrote an opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association raising concerns about consumer use of physiological baby monitors being broadly marketed to parents. As a follow-up to that piece, Dr. Bonafide and his team recently completed a study to ascertain the accuracy of these devices and found they often trigger unwarranted alarms that result in unnecessary ER visits. Dr. Bonafide recommends parents follow the APP’s safe sleep recommendations.
Find out more in a CHOP press release.
CHOP Celebrates Grand Opening of Clinical Manufacturing Facility
Philadelphia used to be a hub for the production of industrial era essentials such as trains, tools, and textiles. On Halloween, the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics, directed by Beverly L. Davidson, PhD, unveiled a Clinical Manufacturing Facility that solidly grounds us in the 21st century: developing and producing tools for precision medicine.
CHOP partnered with the CEO Council for Growth of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia to host the grand opening of the hospital’s new Clinical Manufacturing Facility, which will produce clinical-grade biotechnology tools, known as vectors, to deliver cell and gene therapy for difficult-to-treat diseases. Beyond its importance to medical innovation, the facility’s grand opening event was part of a broader effort to showcase Philadelphia’s position as a hub of scientific and medical innovation, attract world-class talent, generate jobs, and drive the regional economy.
“Philadelphia is a city of breakthroughs,” said Madeline Bell, CHOP’s President and CEO, during the event. “In this facility, we make the tools — the vectors — that scientists use to deliver cell and gene therapies, bringing dramatic precision medicine treatments to patients.”
An earlier version of the hospital’s manufacturing facility developed vectors crucial to last year’s medical milestones — the first-ever gene therapies approved by the FDA. Collaborating with Penn Medicine scientists, CHOP experts produced the first vectors for CAR T-cell therapy used against an aggressive form of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and Luxturna™, used to treat a form of inherited blindness.
Read our Q&A with Clinical Vector Core directors Johannes (Han) van der Loo, PhD, and Olga Zelenaia, PhD, about how the work of the Clinical Vector Core team set the foundation for the new Clinical Manufacturing Facility.
The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies Releases 2018 Annual Report
The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) released its 2018 Annual Report, which features synopses of 10 research projects completed during the 2017-2018 CChIPS project year. Projects span child safety topics including studying the performance of car seats on airplanes, evaluating different booster seat designs, and analyzing real-world, rear-end crashes with an eye toward protecting teen drivers.
For the second year, the report features highlights of live conversations held with our principal investigators on the motivation, methods, results, and implications of each research project. While each project is unique, the common thread is the value of the insight and guidance of industry mentors, and the knowledge that the research findings will have immediate implications in the lives of children and teens.
Included in the 2017-2018 CChIPS portfolio was a study led by Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, FAAN, that focused on situational use of child restraint systems and distracted driving behaviors among parents of children 4 to 10 years of age. This research was published in The Journal of Pediatrics published this research in July 2018. Read more about the published study in the press release and this Bloomberg article.
Penn and CHOP Collaborate on Nutritional Research Center
Leaders from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania announced the creation of the Penn Center for Nutritional Science and Medicine (PenNSAM), a partnership between Penn Medicine and CHOP that will bring nutritional biology research to prevent and treat disease to the forefront.
Under the direction of Gary Wu, MD, associate chief for research, Division of Gastroenterology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and an academic investigator in childhood obesity research at CHOP, PenNSAM will focus on integrating human clinical metadata, traditional dietary assessments, and standard nutritional biomarkers with data generated using the latest high throughput molecular profiling technologies analyzed through the use of advanced biostatistical and computational algorithms.
This multidisciplinary approach bridges the divide between human subject and wet bench research, enabling investigators to develop model systems designed to more precisely identify and characterize molecular mechanisms that drive the human response to diet and nutrition. Some of the envisioned deliverables from the studies supported by PenNSAM include optimizing currently available nutritional interventions for hospitalized patients, and development of novel diet-based interventions to treat disease.
The establishment of PenNSAM integrates expertise between the Penn School of Medicine, the Penn School of Nursing, and CHOP. It also expands the Joint Penn-CHOP Center for Digestive, Liver and Pancreatic Medicine by building upon the close relationship between the Division of Gastroenterology at Penn and the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at CHOP.
In addition, the Center will integrate expertise from schools, centers, and institutes across Penn’s campus. Dr. Wu is an international leader in the field of diet, nutrition, and the gut microbiome. He serves on multiple scientific advisory boards in the food industry and is an advisor to the National Institutes of Health the National Academy of Sciences, and the US Department of Agriculture.
Local Autism Advocate Gets National Recognition and Big Surprise
Ben Hartranft is well-known in the Philadelphia region for his Eagles fandom and his efforts to support autism awareness and research. Now, after Hartranft appeared on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” with former Philadelphia Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos, people all over the world are aware of his enthusiasm for life and his mission to give back.
Dorenbos surprised Hartranft with meeting Ellen, of whom Hartranft is a huge fan. He talked about his autism journey and how instrumental CHOP senior speech-language pathologist Paula Barson, MA, CCC-SLP has been in his life, as well as about the Eagles Autism Challenge. The cherry on top of a day of sweet surprises was when Ellen revealed a $10,000 donation toward his fundraising goal.
Watch Hartranft’s appearance on Ellen through the Ellentube website, and learn more about his work with the Center for Autism Research on the CHOP Research Institute Cornerstone Blog. Learn more about Ben’s fundraising efforts for the Eagles Autism Challenge.
Catch up on our headlines from our Nov. 2 In the News:
- Novel Stem Cell Research Aims to Prevent Infertility in Childhood Cancer Survivors
- CHOP Scientist Co-Leads Stem Cell Research to Restore Vision
- John Maris Featured in New York Academy of Sciences Podcast
- Children with Autism Nearly 50 Percent More Likely to Be Overweight or Obese at 5 Years
- New Causative Gene Discovered in Severe Childhood Epilepsy
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