Lab Research at Children's and SCCA
Seattle Children’s opened a research facility in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood in 2004, adding nearly 50,000 square feet for bench research and nearly tripling the amount of space dedicated to this purpose.
We have another 12,000 square feet of basic research space at Children’s main campus. Our researchers also work in the research labs of our partners — the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Basic research gives scientists the opportunity to discover completely new ways to treat cancer, as well as to alter current treatments so they are more effective against cancer cells or have fewer side effects on the rest of the body.
Pediatric Brain Tumor Research
Researchers in Dr. James M. Olson’s laboratory are studying medicines that kill pediatric brain tumors and are less toxic to the rest of the body.
His group was the first to report that medicines acting in the pathways called the sonic hedgehog, retinoid, histone acetlyase and notch pathways effectively killed brain cancer cells in laboratory studies.
These studies led to four national clinical trials for children with brain tumors, and more are planned.
His laboratory also developed the SmoA1 mouse model of medulloblastoma, which makes medicine testing and prioritization easier before researchers test the medicines in humans.
Dr. Olson and his colleagues have also been involved in nanotechnology research. He is working to design molecules that can find cancer cells and light them up so surgeons can see exactly where a brain tumor is and more easily remove it without taking any healthy brain tissue.
Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, a Children’s neurosurgeon, collaborates with Dr. Olson on this research into nanotechnology.
T and B cells are types of white blood cells that help defend the body against infection. Overactivity of B cells also causes many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and produces tumors in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Researchers led by Dr. David J. Rawlings, an immunologist at Children’s, identified a crucial trigger that activates a pathway in T and B cells that leads to the survival and growth of cells.
Now they are testing whether it also controls survival of some forms of B cell lymphoma. If it does, this could lead to development of less toxic medicines that could slow or stop these abnormal cells.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) Research
For acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), we have a research program to take promising laboratory research findings to the children who may benefit from them in the form of clinical trials.
Dr. Irwin D. Bernstein has done basic lab research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center about the way normal blood elements and AML develop. This led to his research in collaboration with a drug company to develop an antibody linked to a chemotherapy medicine to combat AML.
They have done early studies called Phase I and Phase II trials, and are now testing this treatment in children and adults around the world. This is a major advance over the way we have treated AML for the last several decades.