Pediatric cardiologist Allen Everett discusses his research about the identification and use of biomarkers, which are circulating molecules that tell researchers about overall health, disease severity, injury and recovery. His research aims to transition from laboratory discoveries to use in the hospital to improve the quality of life of children with congenital heart disease in the 21st century.
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Blalock-Taussig-Thomas Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center. I'm Alan Everette and I'm a pediatric cardiologist at the johns Hopkins Hospital. We we studied biomarkers which are circulating molecules that tells us about disease severity and response to therapy. So, my research team studies two important areas of biomarker research. One of them is brain injury and the other ones are more rare condition called pulmonary hypertension. Uh, Brain injury is a very large clinical problem that kind of extends the gamut from um concussion to birth injury to prematurity in the congenital heart surgery. Uh, pulmonary hypertension is a disease is caused by narrowing of the pulmonary lung arteries that ultimately leads into heart failure. Clinical detection of biomarkers and brain injury and pulmonary hypertension can be, are really necessary because the detection of both of these different types of clinical problems is obscure and difficult to do with kind of clinical methods. So we really need new and better ways to be able to detect patients and intervene to improve care. Used advanced protein and metabolism methods to be able to identify new circulating markers for brain injury and pulmonary hypertension. And then we then turn these into clinical assays. We can more quickly intervene in patients and improve quality of care. As a clinician, I've seen dramatic improvements in survival in Children after cardiac surgery. But what's become more clear is that these Children have a really broad uh co morbidity and neurodevelopmental deficits. These are deficits and hyperactivity, coordination, anxiety, uh, and uh executive function abnormalities. Uh, these the mechanism is really unknown for this and it's not not very clinically obvious and these children's after repair and really only becomes clear when Children get to be school age, you know, in the 21st century. This is just not what acceptable as for care for our Children and cardiac congenital heart disease. So the current state of the art for being able to evaluate the brain and Children after congenital heart surgery is complex. Medical imaging, such as M. R. I. Which is really difficult to do and very small Children. Uh And it only really tells us that injuries occurred and doesn't really tell us when injuries happened. So we really need better methods to be able to understand exactly when injuries happened so that we can intervene and achieve better outcomes. So presently we're developing panels of brain specific injury uh test similar to what's used in the emergency room for heart attacks, to be able to use in the chemical clinical care continuum. So we can identify when brain injuries occurring during care so we can intervene and be able to and to develop new therapies. Second, we're also identifying the relationship between industrial chemicals involved in the fabric that linger in the fabrication of medical plastics and the relationship to neurodevelopmental outcomes. Uh If these chemicals can be identified and removed from medical plastics. Uh it could be an early win and being able to improve the outcome of Children's after cardiac surgery. My research is directly aimed at being able to move our laboratory discoveries into the hospital to be able to improve clinical care for Children with congenital heart disease.