Groundbreaking research at Seattle Children's Hospital to help diagnose rare health condition

SEATTLE — A groundbreaking researching happening right here in Washington is giving doctors new hope at better treating and diagnosing a rare health condition called Kawasaki disease.

It’s a rare inflammatory condition that mostly affects children under 5.

Doctors say it can be rare to diagnose due to symptoms resembling those of other childhood illnesses.

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Michael Portman and his team at Seattle’s Children Hospital conducted clinical trial in 200 patients and reported improved outcome.

Now they are performing genetic studies in nearly 800 patients with funding from a $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“Kawasaki disease can cause problems lifelong and there needs to be a high awareness of it,” said Dr. Portman.

His team hopes to create a blood test that could help better identify patients with this disease.

“Most patients with Kawasaki disease do very well,” said Portman. “It’s about 20% that do have significant problems, especially with coronary artery that can be persistent throughout life.”

KIRO 7 talked with the family of 9-year-old Olivia Nelson. She was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease at 3 years old.  Her parents said she will likely have to take blood-thinning medication for the rest of her life.

Olivia took part in the latest clinical trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital and her family said they are happy she could potentially help improve the lives of other young patients down the road.

“To make the treatment better, so even if doesn’t help her, it is going to help somebody,” said Trevor Nelson.