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Go Exploring in Latest Issue of Bench to Bedside
Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute are always curious as they explore uncharted territories and tap new technologies. Read about the many novel ways they are looking to improve children’s health in the February issue of Bench to Bedside. Here are some highlights:
New mHealth Research Affinity Group
“mHealth is a new paradigm of research in a lot of ways,” said Nadia Dowshen, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist at CHOP and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The group’s goal is to bring together researchers and staff who are interested in keeping pace with the fast-moving field of mobile health. In a recent survey of CHOP researchers, almost 50 percent of the 173 people who responded wanted to learn more about mHealth. Those already involved in mHealth research said they would welcome support in the areas of in-house development, information systems, and vetting commercial and academic partners.
Ethics of Emerging Genetic Tools
Marni Falk, MD, an attending physician and director of the Mitochondrial-Genetic Disease Clinic at CHOP, participated in an Institute of Medicine (IOM) pane of experts that considered the ethical, social, and policy issues surrounding mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs). These sophisticated approaches are under development but have not yet been conducted in humans in the U.S. They could one day give couples who are at risk of passing on a serious form of mitochondrial disease to their offspring a new reproductive option. The IOM committee recommended that clinical research into MRTs should proceed with careful oversight.
“It was an intense process,” said Dr. Falk, who also is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Penn. “To me, the most amazing part was that something about mitochondrial biology and disease had made it to this level of national interest and attention.”
Early Smell Exposure
A pilot study conducted at CHOP provides some of the first-ever evidence for a critical period in developing the sense of smell, or olfaction. The findings have particular implications for rehabilitating young patients, including severely premature infants, who receive lifesaving medical interventions that temporarily prevent airflow through the nasal passages during this potentially critical period.
“When dealing with critically ill children early in life, quality-of-life senses such as smell and taste are understandably not considered,” said Steven Sobol, MD, MSc, a CHOP pediatric otolaryngologist and surgeon and associate professor at Penn, and the study’s senior author. “One of the take home messages for us was that physicians should be aware there is this potential for smell dysfunction later on in life.”