Recently Published Research - Winter 2019

February 15, 2019

Single Ovary Removal for Fertility Preservation

In the first publication from the U.S. on surgical techniques and outcomes of single ovary removal for fertility preservation in girls, surgeons from Lurie Children’s report that the procedure caused no complications and can be performed laparoscopically, on an outpatient basis, without delaying treatment for cancer or other therapies posing high risk of infertility. They present experience with 64 girls, aged 12 years on average, with the youngest only 5 months old at the time of surgery. Their findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery by lead author Erin Rowell, MD, Director of the Fertility and Hormone Preservation and Restoration Program at Lurie Children’s and Associate Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Children with a variety of cancer, genetic, endocrine and rheumatologic conditions may be candidates for fertility preservation.

New Method to Induce Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Become Blood

Scientists at the Manne Children’s Research Institute have discovered a way to increase the efficiency of mature blood production in a dish. They first converted human skin cells to pluripotent stem cells, which are stem cells that have the potential to develop into many different kinds of cells. Then they coaxed these stem cells into becoming a variety of blood cells, including immune cells called “natural killer” cells that are part of the body’s natural defense against cancer and infection. Results of their study, which hold promise for future treatments for blood disorders, immune deficiencies and cancer, were published in Experimental Hematology by first author Yekaterina Galat, BS, Research Associate at Manne Research Institute and senior author Vasil Galat, PhD, Director of the Human iPS and Stem Cell Core and member of the Developmental Biology Program at the Manne Research Institute. He also is Research Associate Professor of Pathology at Feinberg.

Advances in Food Allergy

Oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy

About a year after receiving daily oral immunotherapy for severe peanut allergy, 67 percent of children in a Phase 3 trial were able to tolerate eating at least two peanuts without an allergic reaction, while 50 percent tolerated eating three to four peanuts without symptoms. At the start of the study, all of these children had allergic reactions after ingesting just 1/10 of a peanut. These results of an international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Study author Jacqueline Pongracic, MD, Head of Allergy and Immunology at Lurie Children’s and Professor of Pediatrics at Feinberg, notes that assuming FDA approval, the treatment could be available to patients in the second half of 2019.


Allergy Prevalence in Adults and Children

Two allergy prevalence studies led by Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, the Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Research Professor for a Sr. Scientist in Child Health Research at the Manne  Research Institute, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School, are changing the understanding of allergy in the population. Gupta also is Director of the Science and Outcomes of Allergy and Asthma Research (SOAAR) Program based at Lurie Children’s and Feinbergl.

  • Nearly 8 percent of U.S. children (about 5.6 million) have food allergies, with nearly 40 percent allergic to more than one food. These findings were based on a large-scale national food allergy prevalence survey, which assessed over 38,000 children. The study, published in Pediatrics, also reveals striking new statistics that reflect food allergy severity – one in five of children needed treatment in the emergency department (ED) in the past year for a life-threatening reaction to food, while 42 percent reported at least one lifetime food allergy related ED visit. However, only 40 percent of children with food allergies had a current prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector, which is necessary for immediate treatment of a severe allergic reaction.
  • Over 10 percent of adults in the U.S. – more than 26 million – are estimated to have food allergy, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open. However, researchers found that 19 percent of adults think they are currently food allergic, although their reported symptoms are inconsistent with a true food allergy, which can trigger a life-threatening reaction. Researchers also found that nearly half of food-allergic adults developed at least one of their food allergies as an adult. Results are based on a nationally representative survey of over 40,000 adults.

New Understanding of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Researchers led by neonatologist, Manne Research Institute researcher and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Feinberg, Isabelle De Plaen, MD, discovered a promising direction toward understanding the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating intestinal disease commonly affecting premature infants. The study, as published in the American Journal of Pathology, points to a new potential strategy for preventing NEC in preemies during their first few weeks of life. Studying the early cellular events leading to NEC in a mouse model, researchers found that activation of a key protein, which responds to stimuli like bacterial products, triggers inflammation in the intestine prior to the presence of intestinal injury. Blocking this protein activation decreased the development of NEC.