While staying at the Ronald McDonald House this summer, we met a variety of families who had children with a variety of conditions, and none of them are easy to handle. But, the ones that struck me as the most unfair were those children who had gone through cancer and all the corresponding harshness of chemotherapy, only to find out that the very same drug concoctions that had saved their precious lives had caused their hearts to enlarge and stop functioning correctly. We met two of these children. One was a teenager who had gone through chemo when a toddler. Her heart condition was able to treated with drugs for over ten years, but she finally had to get a transplant due to her dilated cardiomyopathy. The other was a toddler herself, who had just finished her bout with chemo, only to find out that her heart was now failing. She was in and out of the hospital during Mackenzie's recovery and I hope she is doing okay, but it was definitely touch and go. Because of this, I was excited to see a Business Week article this morning discussing the possibilities for stem cells to help reverse the heart damage from chemotherapy.
The article, accessible here, discusses an article from the journal Circulation. The research showed that stem cells taken from rodents prior to chemo dosages were able to be re-inserted into the hearts to reverse the damage from chemo dosages. The most exciting thing to me is that there are already Phase I clinical trials happening. Often, these are far off in the future when these articles are published, so the fact that the trials are happening is really exciting. Perhaps in the future this can prevent some children from having to go through heart transplants after surviving their bouts with cancer, bringing a bit of relief to these families who have to go through so much.