More than 75 percent of children diagnosed with cancer are surviving into adulthood, leaving more and more parents to wonder: Will my child be able to have children down the road?
They’re right to be concerned. The cancer treatments that are so effective at saving children’s lives can themselves cause a host of problems that don’t manifest until years later. These late effects include particularly harsh impacts on fertility.
On our sister blog Notes, urologist Richard Yu, MD, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital and fertility specialist Elizabeth Ginsberg, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital outline where the science of fertility preservation is going.
“It may take 15 or 20 years to develop the techniques to help a child who is 8 years old now,” notes Yu. “But if you don’t preserve something now, you run the risk of not being able to do anything for them later, which is where we are now with a large number of adults who survived childhood cancer.”
Basic research investigators are increasingly conducting translational research studies to advance their therapeutic approaches to clinical trials. Unfortunately, when testing drugs in rodent models of human disease, these studies often do not measure drug levels from their animal subjects.
This is understandable, since collecting these data can be very expensive and requires specialized expertise. But as a consequence, a lot of preclinical literature is published without any consideration of what drug concentration was actually achieved in the organ of interest. This is undercutting our efforts to get new therapies to patients. …
During the last decade or so, health care has been rapidly transforming from a reactive, paper-based system to a responsive digital model.
Massachusetts, under Gov. Charlie Baker’s leadership, has launched a comprehensive public-private partnership to accelerate the state’s digital health care sector. The partnership has identified multiple ways to drive investment and growth in the state.
Technology transfer from universities to private companies is just one example. In the past, each transfer required completely new agreements. Three new standardized templates for licensing, technology transfer and sponsored research will help facilitate these processes. In 2016, the partnership will expand its Mentorship Speakers Series with a stronger focus on digital health care. Finally, the Digital Healthcare Innovation Hub and Accelerator will provide a space to support and grow new digital health companies in Boston.
Vector visited with John Brownstein, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital’s Chief Innovation Officer, to better understand the background and potential impact of this new initiative. …
Michael Docktor, MD, a gastroenterologist in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, is passionate about technology and taking care of sick children. He is clinical director of Innovation, director of Clinical Mobile Solutions and an original co-founder of Hacking Pediatrics.
Health care hackathons have proliferated over the last three years, perhaps nowhere more than at Boston’s academic medical centers. After three years of organizing and running Hacking Pediatrics events, and seeing nearly 40 amazing ideas generated by hundreds of innovators, we felt that the experience needed to evolve.
Armed with data and a few battle scars, as any startup might incur, we pivoted and sought to, essentially, hack the hack. …
It’s been an exciting year for pediatric health care. As Thanksgiving draws near, Vector is taking a pause to acknowledge the inspiring people and ideas that are helping set the table for a better future.
What are we thankful for?
The growing cadre of citizen scientists — passionate parents pushing for answers for their kids, helping to move rare disease research forward through their own investigations and initiatives. They’re keeping academic researchers honest and on top of their game, and, in many cases, helping to fund them.
The growing inclination among clinicians to say, “the way things are isn’t good enough,” and then push the boundaries of what’s possible to improve sick children’s lives. …
“Precision medicine” looks to be heading down the same path as “big data” and “innovation”: The term is becoming so widely used that it threatens to detract from the real impact it is already having in patients’ lives.
But for children, who are still developing and have the most to gain, precision medicine is more than a bumper sticker. On the micro scale, early genetic testing—perhaps routinely, someday, in newborns—can help guide medical care, targeted therapies and preventive strategies based on a child’s genetic makeup. On a macro scale, big data from the larger population becomes a predictive tool, guiding medical decisions that could be life-altering in a still-malleable child.
“If you can make an early diagnosis, you can amplify the effects of what you do, rather than try to change the highways once they’re built,” said Wendy Chung, MD, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center during a panel discussion last week at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards (#PedInno15). …
What happens when you put a doctor who specializes in cystic fibrosis in the same room as two biotech executives, one of whom is a ‘dadvocate’ of a teenager with CF? View the highlights and reactions to a a dynamic panel discussion at the Boston Children’s Hospital Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards with Gregory Sawicki, MD, MPH, director of the Boston Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center; David Meeker, MD, Genzyme president and CEO; Bob Coughlin, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council president and CEO; and moderator Luke Timmerman, founder and editor of The Timmerman Report.