Stories about: Vector

When kids live far from health care, telehealth may be a lifeline


Did you know that at least 15 million children in the U.S. live in “Health Professional Shortage Areas” (HPSAs), defined as regions with an average of less than one health professional for every 3,500 people?  Far from hospitals, primary care doctors and specialists, these kids often miss out on getting the care they need. Telehealth can help bridge the gap between health professionals and these communities.

Our sister blog Vector spotlights various initiatives that have creatively used telehealth to care for children in remote areas.  The results are encouraging: timely, cost-effective care — when insurance regulations cooperate.

Read more about telehealth and HPSAs on Vector.

Time for a personalized approach to managing kidney stones?

kidney stones Friedhelm Hildebrandt nephrology

One in 10 people in their lifetime will have a kidney stone — a small, hard deposit of mineral and acid salts that can obstruct the drainage of urine, cause intense pain and, if not treated properly, lead to long-term kidney issues. Kidney stones are relatively uncommon in children, but the number of cases over the past two decades has risen.

The treatment for kidney stones has remained the same for decades — increased fluid intake, limited sodium intake, diuretics and potassium citrate therapy. Lifestyle factors are typically blamed for kidney stones, yet twin studies suggest a genetic component.

Our sister blog Vector spoke to Friedhelm Hildebrandt, MD, chief of the Division of Nephrology at Boston Children’s Hospital, about new research that supports pursuing a genetic diagnosis for kidney stones, especially in kids.

“The minute we find a mutation that causes disease, we have the cause of disease in hand,” Hildebrandt tells Vector. “And finding the cause has consequences for therapy.”

Learn more about research on personalized medicine for kidney stones on Vector.

Is the time right for pediatric precision cancer medicine?

precision cancer medicine personalized medicine pediatric oncology childhood tumors Vector
What is precision cancer medicine all about? See the full infographic at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Precision cancer medicine — an approach in which doctors treat a tumor based on its genetic profile, rather than where it is — has benefited a growing number of adults with cancer. It’s not yet a standard approach in pediatric oncology, but the times may be a-changing.

Our sister blog Vector reports on the results of the Individualized CAncer Therapy (iCat) trial, a four-center study led by Katherine Janeway, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Solid Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, that investigated the feasibility of clinical sequencing and precision medicine in patients with relapsed or refractory pediatric solid tumors. In 43 out of the study’s 100 participants, the iCat investigators made genetic findings suggesting a new treatment approach, a new diagnosis and/or a genetic predisposition to cancer.

The study joins a growing body of evidence in favor of incorporating sequencing into pediatric oncology care, at least among children with relapsed tumors.

“There’s a lot more going on than any one study would suggest,” Janeway says. “Every study, every paper is all part of one big story about bringing precision medicine to children with cancers.”

Read more about the iCat study on Vector. And visit the Thriving blog to read about a young patient who is now a brain tumor survivor thanks to precision cancer medicine.

Hacking Pediatrics mixes clinicians, developers, designers and more for health care innovation

Hacking Pediatrics mashup man woman laptops health care innovation

Our sister blog Vector recaps the 2015 Hacking Pediatrics Mashup, a 12-hour event that brought together 17 teams of clinicians, developers, designers and engineers to collaborate and hack technologies aimed at tackling a wide range of pediatric health care problems:

The majority of the pediatric products or solutions pitched came from residents and fellows, but there were plenty of non-millennials among the hackers—most notably, 97-year-old pediatrician and author T. Berry Brazelton, MD, founder of the Touchpoints Center, who came up from Cape Cod to join a hack that would help nurses tune in to children’s developmental needs.

Enthusiasm ran high, not only among the clinicians bringing pain points to be hacked, but also the software developers, IT companies, designers, MBA students and other mentors — and even the judges.

Among the top hacks were a gaming-inspired technology aimed at making medication adherence easy for kids and parents, a suicide prevention app and home platform for collecting oximetry data.

Learn more about the Hacking Pediatrics Mashup on Vector.