Child and Maternal Health

SPARK has a special focus on the often neglected area of Child and Maternal Health.
Thanks to funding from the Stanford Child Health Research Institute, 11 projects in this area have reached the clinic or commercial sectors

Child and Maternal Health Success Stories

Repurposed Small Molecule to Prevent Progression of Autoimmune Disease

Paul Bollyky, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and of Microbiology and Immunology

Stanford SPARK has been a vital supporter of our research program on preventing autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes (T1D) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). With their help, we’ve repurposed a drug, originally developed for a different therapeutic indication, which may be able to prevent these diseases.

This work is currenlty being advanced by Hyalos Therapeutics

Multiplexed Diagnostic to Predict and Detect Pre-Eclampsia

Atul Butte, MD, PhD, Professor, UCSF School of Medicine, Pediatrics. 

Given preliminary ideas and findings funded by the March of Dimes, we proposed to design a novel diagnostic for pre-eclampsia, developed from publicly-available molecular data. This diagnostic would help obstetricians and pregnant women, as pre-eclampsia is still a major source of mortality during pregnancy.

Using SPARK/CHRI funds and advice, we validated the diagnostic tool and created a startup company, Carmenta Biosciences. Carmenta has since been acquired by Progenity, a diagnostic company in San Diego.

Sildenafil for the Treatment of Lymphatic Malformations

Alfred Lane, MD, Professor of Dermatology and of Pediatrics at the Stanford University Medical Center, Emeritus

We identified a patient who had a large lymph vessels overgrowth (lymphangioma) who improved when given sildenafil (Viagra®) for her pulmonary hypertension. SPARK and CHRI supported a study of 7 children with lymphangiomas, which led to an approved FDA IND #113112 and a $1,592,842 NIH grant to treat 60 children with lymphangiomas with sildenafil. That study is currently active enrolling subjects at several centers across the USA.

Biomaterial to Treat Chronic Tympanic Membrane Perforation

Peter Santa Maria, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, The University of Western Australia

My SPARK project at Stanford was to translate a non-surgical treatment to regenerate the ear drum after a hole had formed in it. This condition affects up to 200 million children and adults with its largest impact in the third world but also a significant population in first world countries. Even in those who have access to surgery, it still involves an admission to hospital, general anesthetic and cut behind the ear. We’re hoping to remove all of these factors with an injectable gel through the ear canal. I had spent eight years understanding the wound healing of the ear drum with many ideas of how this may translate into a real world solution.

This product is now in further development by Astellas Pharma Inc.

Currently Funded Projects

A non-invasive diagnostic for placenta accreta

Julie Baker, PhD, Professor, Department of Genetics   

A PCR-based method for sample-sparing and cost-effective diagnosis of food allergy risk 

Carolyn Bertozzi, PhD, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences; Professor, Department of Chemistry; and (by courtesy) of Radiology; and (by courtesy) of Chemical and Systems Biology

Transient telomere extension to treat liver failure in Dyskeratosis Congenita patients 

Helen Blau, PhD, The Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology; Director, Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology

A small-molecule activator of AMPK for treatment of mitochondrial disorders

Tina Cowan, PhD, Professor of Pathology (Clinical), Stanford University Medical Center

An assay for predicting the development of severe dengue prior to its onset

Shirit Einav, MD. Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), and of Microbiology & Immunology

Leveraging enterovirus dependency on the human host factor PIP5k1a for the development of a potent broad-spectrum antiviral 

Jeffrey S. Glenn, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology & Hepatology); and of Microbiology & Immunology

Engineered mesenchymal stem cell therapy to promote immunological tolerance to pancreatic islets 

Stuart Goodman, MD, PhD, Robert L. and Mary Ellenburg Professor of Surgery; Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Enhancement of adeno-associated virus-mediated homologous recombination (AAV-HR) through inhibition of the FANCM pathway 

Mark A. Kay, MD, PhD, Dennis Farrey Family Professor in Pediatrics; Professor, Department of Genetics

Genome edited airway stem cells as a durable cell-based therapy to treat cystic fibrosis

Matthew Porteus, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics (Stem Cell Transplantation)

CARTS: new materials enable a new platform technology for gene delivery, vaccinations, and cancer immunotherapy 

Robert M. Waymouth, PhD, Robert Eckles Swain Professor in Chemistry; Professor, Department of Chemistry; and (by courtesy) of Chemical Engineering

Since 2011, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute and Stanford's world-class pediatric faculty have been one of the biggest supporters of SPARK. None of the research here would have been possible without their tireless assistance