“In the trial we’re on at the moment, James has had some blood taken. They’re growing a baby heart to see if the gene for cardiomyopathy is in there, then they’ll remove the gene to see if the heart will heal itself. That will explain if this has anything to do with genetics or not,” Toni explains.
“That’s one of the parts of what we’re doing at the moment. James also goes to the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and they do lots of exercise MRIs and different bits and pieces, with a few other children too, so they can get some good information on how the condition is affecting his heart and what they can do to help. So, we don’t just support research, we take part in it.”
This is a four-year study, funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project in partnership with the RACP Foundation, looking at anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity (ACT). ACT can result in life-threatening impairment of heart function, with 70 per cent of severely affected patients dying from the complication.
Around the world, every year over 300,000 kids receive anthracyclines during their cancer treatments and in around 60,000 survivors, the major long-term side-effect is cardiac damage.