Earlier and better treatments for healthier kids

At Toronto’s SickKids Hospital, researchers and clinicians team up to tackle childhood obesity and lung disease
Julie Stauffer
The Hospital for Sick Children
Health Services Delivery
Illustrations of medical equipment arranged in the shape of human lungs

As a senior scientist at SickKids in Toronto, Martin Post knows that the earlier doctors can detect and treat diseases in children, the better the chance those children will enjoy long, healthy lives.

The hospital’s new CFI-funded Centre for Advanced Pediatric Imaging and Therapy of Obesity and Lung (CAPITOL) will help make that possible with groundbreaking diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

On the imaging front, Post and his colleagues will pioneer non-invasive techniques to assess their young patients. For example, because infants can’t hold their breath for a normal lung function test, doctors are currently forced to use radiation-based CT scans. At CAPITOL, they’ll employ a safer option that uses polarized gas to make lungs visible on MRIs.

CAPITOL will also advance world-first stem cell therapies. Post envisions engineering fat-burning cells to help obese patients, creating mucus-clearing cells to treat cystic fibrosis, or even building bits of lung right in the lab.

The centre will serve as a beacon for the best and brightest, bringing together imaging specialists, respirologists, endocrinologists, obesity researchers, stem cell biologists and more under one roof.

“All of them will work together,” Post says. “That is probably the most exciting part.”

CAPITOL’s multidisciplinary approach will help generate novel ideas and insights. Meanwhile the close collaboration between clinical practitioners and lab-bench researchers will make it easy to rapidly translate new discoveries into meaningful treatments for patients.

Ultimately, says Post, that will mean better health outcomes for children across Canada and around the world.