Cincinnati Children's Blog

Discover the source, prevent the problem: the never ending quest

February 10, 2012

The news is never short on stories about efforts to make healthcare more effective, more affordable and that endless quest to find new treatments for terrible diseases.

Humankind constantly puts together its greatest minds and newest technologies, and then invents even newer technologies, for this cause. Could it be that a thought from our long-distant past might be a glimpse into the future of medicine?

It was over 200 years ago when founding father Benjamin Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

With this in mind, the latest annual report from the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation provides an updated overview of the institution’s work to, in effect, shut down disease processes –and maybe even stop certain ailments from happening in the first place.  Think of the possibilities: Stop a disease from cropping up, prevent premature deaths, or lifetimes of human suffering and expense to manage chronic conditions.

Arnold Strauss, MD, research foundation director and chair of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, describes the work as “discovering the source,” comparing it to that of early explorer-discoveries facing adversity to find the starting point of unexplored rivers.

In the annual report’s introduction, he writes: “We showcase our exploration of the fundamental processes occurring during the earliest stages of development that later adversely impact children’s and adults’ health. We highlight this work of discovery because understanding such mechanisms is essential to developing early interventions or therapies that will prevent or obviate adverse outcomes and alter the developmental origins of pediatric and adult disease.”

Strauss goes on to describe how, today, physicians try to repair congenital defects and cure children whose health problems began before birth. By discovering the source and basic developmental mechanisms causing these problems, he suggests it might be possible to treat the developmental origins of disease. “Even better, how can we prevent or mitigate these adverse fetal events? These are the questions that fuel the daily work of our research teams.”

It can include work to develop a possible gene therapy that reprograms a blood cell to permanently cure sickle cell anemia, or therapeutic interventions to prevent premature birth – and the sick kids and adults that can result. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s are putting tremendous effort and skill into finding those ounces of prevention that might produce pounds of cure.

You can view an online version of the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation Annual Report HERE.

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