CURRENT STUDIES:

Bioactive lipids as biomarkers of host immune response during severe influenza infection in pediatric patients

The PICFLU investigators are collaborating with scientists at the Omni Biomarker Division of Genentech, Inc. to use mass spectrometry to measure lipid biomarkers in the respiratory aspirates of children with acute respiratory failure from influenza pneumonia and determine if they can predict how long they need ventilator support and intensive care.

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Our findings were presented in 2018 by Dr. Veronica Anania at the American Association of Immunology in Austin, Texas and by Kent Wong the American Society for Mass Spectrometry in San Diego, California, both from Genentech, Inc.

Association of mannose binding lectin disease susceptibility and severity of pediatric influenza pneumonia

Mannose binding lectin (MBL) is a protein found in our blood that can fight infectious pathogens.  Levels of MBL are strongly influenced by a person’s genes. We evaluated whether gene markers in MBL influenced the tendency for a person to be more likely to get influenza infection and how severe their infection was.

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Our findings were presented by Dr. Emily Levy in 2017 at the Society for Critical Care Medicine in Honolulu, Hawaii and in 2018 at the Society for Pediatric Research in Toronto, Canada.

 

Innate immune suppression in children with influenza critical illness

Some children have difficulty mounting an immune response to viruses during a severe influenza infection.  Sometimes they also can’t mount an effective immune response to bacteria. In test tubes, we stimulated the blood from children with active influenza infection with viral and bacterial stimulants.  We tested whether or not the white blood cells of the children were able to react in the expected way to the stimulants.  We are evaluating whether the inability to mount a proper response to the infection influences their disease severity and health outcomes. 

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Our findings were presented by our collaborator Dr. Mark Hall from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2017 at the Society for Pediatric Research Meeting in San Francisco, California.

 

Staphylococcus aureus bacterial gene expression in children with influenza pneumonia

Confection of the lung with influenza virus and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can be highly fatal in children, especially if the bacteria are resistant to commonly used antibiotics. We are working with Dr. Kristin Moffitt to evaluate how the Staph aureus bacteria express genes, especially genes associated with the damaging toxins the bacteria produce, in the lungs of children in the PICFLU Study with influenza infection. 

 

Primary immunodeficiency to influenza infection in children

 Some children may get severely ill with influenza infection because one or more of the genes that help us mount an effective response against the virus are altered so they don’t work correctly.  We are working with Drs. Helen Su and Yu Zhang from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Immunological Diseases Section to evaluate over 600 genes essential for fighting influenza infection to identify changes that might influence gene function. 



Organ dysfunction scoring and clinical outcomes of children with severe influenza infection

Working with Dr. Scott Weiss from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we are evaluating the performance of two scoring systems that evaluate how damaged a patient’s organs are when they are critically ill.  We hope that one of these scores will give us a better way to track illness severity while children are in the intensive care unit with a severe influenza infection.

Genes associated with multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) in children with influenza pneumonia

In this study we are evaluating the expression of over 600 immune genes to figure out which cellular pathways are involved in children with influenza infection who have more severe organ failure. This study is funded by a R21 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development