Research That Improves Kids' Lives

Researchers and physician-scientists at Lurie Children’s are expanding knowledge and advancing cures to make the world a better place for children. Research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.

Keeping preemies safe from deadly disease

Lurie Children’s pediatric surgeon and scientist Catherine Hunter, MD, recently received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant supporting her research into a potentially deadly disease affecting premature babies, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a bacterial infection that causes the intestinal lining to break down. Dr. Hunter calls the devastating disease a “complex puzzle” that only a handful of major research labs are trying to solve. Dr. Hunter hopes the NIH grant will enable her to build upon her earlier discoveries of possible inhibitors to prevent NEC—discoveries that may eventually lead to therapeutic clinical trials.

Mutation unique to childhood kidney cancer discovered

A recent study led by Elizabeth Perlman, MD, Head of Lurie Children’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, discovered a new genetic mutation, MLLT1, in the most common type of pediatric kidney cancer, Wilms tumor. Dr. Perlman, the Arthur C. King Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, was first author of the study, published in Nature Communications. The mutations pinpointed in the study may represent new targets for therapies to help young patients with the disease.

Study: Parents in dark about using epinephrine for kids’ food allergies

Food allergy affects 8 percent of U.S. children. But many parents don’t recall receiving instructions from their child’s physician on the proper use of an epinephrine auto-injector or the creation of an emergency plan in the case of an allergic reaction. These findings come from a study recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. “This is potentially lifesaving information, and these points need to be hammered home by the physician at every visit,” says Ruchi Gupta, MD, one of the study’s authors, and a member of the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program at the Manne Research Institute.

Screening kids with epilepsy for learning and behavioral problems

Learning difficulties and behavioral problems during childhood can lead to social and educational issues in young adults with childhood epilepsy, even when their seizures are under control, according to a study led by researchers at the Manne Research Institute. Published online in Pediatrics, the study revealed that other factors—including dyslexia, ADHD and depression—can play a powerful role in social and educational achievement, and underscores the importance of screening children with epilepsy for learning difficulties. The study’s lead author is Anne Berg, PhD, a member of the Clinical & Translational Research Program.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Heroes magazine.