Recent Studies Showcase Wide-Ranging Research Advances
As the Children’s Discovery Institute embarks on its seventh year of funding innovative research to promote children’s health, I am continually impressed by the far-reaching accomplishments of the Institute’s talented investigators. Here are just a few of the recent published studies that deserve mentioning.
Two of these studies, published in Science and Nature, highlight the importance of sequencing the genomes of microbial communities to understand their impact on human health. For example, Gautam Dantas, PhD, and his team revealed that bacteria found in soil could transfer genes that cause antibiotic resistance to pathogens responsible for pneumonia and other life-threatening infections, making these conditions more difficult to treat. On the other hand, Barbara Warner, MD, and her collaborators showed that microbial communities in the intestinal tract vary significantly between people in different countries. This could explain how cultural factors such as diet could lead to different health outcomes across geographic locations.
As reported in Nature and Cancer Research, Joshua Rubin, MD, PhD, Jeffrey Leonard, MD, and their collaborators are making substantial progress in understanding medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. By characterizing unique molecular and genetic patterns in different subgroups of medulloblastoma patients, these researchers will pave the way for personalized treatment plans for specific types of patients.
Beyond improving therapeutic options for patients, it is crucial to develop new tools to improve the diagnosis of diseases. Toward that end, Charles Canter, MD, Samuel Wickline, MD, and colleagues developed a noninvasive imaging method for detecting transplant coronary artery disease — the main complication that limits long-term survival in pediatric heart transplant recipients. This approach, reported in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, will help clinicians decide on the best treatment options for these patients.
Taken together, these new research advances illustrate the important work that Institute investigators continue to pursue in order to treat, cure and ultimately prevent a wide range of childhood diseases.
Mary Dinauer, MD, PhD
Mary Dinauer, MD, PhD, is the Scientific Director of the Children’s Discovery Institute. She also is the Fred M. Saigh Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Professor in Pediatrics, Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine.