Newport Beach-based charity Coalition Duchenne recently launched an interview series titled “Making a Difference in Duchenne” through its Youtube channel featuring those who are making a substantial difference in Duchenne muscular dystrophy care, research, education and awareness.
Dr. Eduardo Marbán, who is the director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, is the first interview to be featured in this series. In the interview, he speaks about cardiac derived stem cells in relation to the disease. Dr. Marbán, who was previously featured in an Economist article in November 2011 titled “Repairing Broken Hearts,” was read by the executive director and Coalition Duchenne founder Catherine Jayasuriya. The researcher’s article prompted Jayasuriya to suggest a research focus on Duchenne, since cardiac scarring highly compromises the lives of those suffering with the disease. Since then, the organization has already funded research projects that used Marbán’s stem cell technology to address cardiac scarring in DMD. This method has been proven to reduce scarring resulting from heart attacks. Marbán’s therapy utilizes human heart tissue to grow specific heart stem cells, which are then administered into the patient’s heart.
“We need to focus on changing the course of the disease. We lose many young men to cardiac issues. We hope that working with cardiac stem cells is one way we will eventually change that outcome,” said Jayasuriya.
Another interview in the series features actor Cody Saintgnue, who plays Brett Talbot in Teen Wolf, an MTV series, and has a unique relationship with Duchenne. In 2009 he played a young man with muscular dystrophy in his break-out role on the television show House MD. Saintgnue talked about his own experience of learning to mimic the physicality of someone suffering with Duchenne and about the inspiration that those with the disease gave him in overcoming many obstacles to live a happy and fulfilling life.
According to the press release, the upcoming interviews scheduled for the future will feature: Rachelle Crosbie-Watson, professor at the University of California, Los Angeles that teaches the first university course entirely focused on Duchenne; Dr. Ron Victor, a Cedars-Sinai researcher and cardiologist focused on the benefits of Viagra and Cialis for Duchenne cardiomyopathy; and Scotty Bob Morgan, involved in raising awareness about Duchenne.