MANALAPAN, NJ--(Marketwired - July 29, 2016) - JAR of Hope, one of the world's foremost foundations dedicated to funding research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), has initiated phase one of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment study (HBOT), underway onsite at the University of Minnesota. The two-year pre-clinical trial attempts to prove the efficacy of oxygen therapy on DMD sufferers by examining the long-term heart function of muscular dystrophy-stricken mice experiencing hypoxia.
The delivery of oxygen to the tissues is vital for sustaining life. In patients with DMD, this fundamental task is impeded through a variety of mechanisms, causing among other things, hypoxia, a deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues. Recent studies have demonstrated that hypoxia alone is sufficient in causing significant changes in dystrophic mice. This, and other data, indicates that dystrophic mice have an increased susceptibility to hypoxia. The HBOT study aims to examine the hypothesis that increasing oxygen delivery will enhance cardiac, respiratory, and skeletal muscle function.
DeWayne Townsend, DVM, PhD, who will spearhead the study, had initially uncovered the adverse result of introducing mice to a hypoxic environment and was shocked by its consequences. "We took otherwise healthy mice, and put them in an environment with decreased oxygen levels in their bloodstreams," explains Dr. Townsend. "After removing the mice three weeks later, we examined their hearts and surprisingly found a significant amount of scarring and damage. We hypothesize that by increasing the oxygen available, it's possible to slow the progression of heart muscle degeneration in patients afflicted with DMD."
Dr. Townsend's theory is supported by the fact that seven-year-old Jamesy Raffone, the inspiration behind JAR of Hope, stands as one of the first-ever children with DMD to undergo the HBOT treatment. Jamesy experienced a marked improvement in his cardiac and motor functions after being administered oxygenated therapy, and catalyzed the mission to proceed with this groundbreaking endeavor.
JAR of Hope founder and president, Jim Raffone, has long made the HBOT study the foundation's primary fundraising undertaking. His tireless efforts to make this trial a reality have come to fruition, and he possesses the utmost confidence in the University of Minnesota conducting this integral research. "I'm just a desperate dad looking to save his son, but I'm no scientist," Raffone stated. "I've done extensive research on everything related to DMD, and in partnering with a renowned scientist in Dr. Townsend, our collective hope is that the data accumulated in this trial lays the groundwork for making the treatment available to all children battling this horrific disease."
The University of Minnesota comprises its own center for muscular dystrophy, one of a few universities in the nation to contain such a division, making it the ideal campus to host the HBOT study. The Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center facilitates the development of clinical and basic research on muscular dystrophy and by the trial's conclusion will gather a plethora of meaningful data to utilize in the battle to defeat DMD. Jim Raffone went on to say, "The trial's ultimate goal is to keep children with DMD walking and breathing normally for as long as possible until a cure can be found. JAR of Hope has come such a long way, yet we could have never made it this far without the help of our generous donors and volunteers."
For additional information regarding JAR of Hope, the HBOT study, or to become a JAR of Hope ambassador by way of donations or event participation, please visit www.jarofhope.org.
About JAR of Hope:
JAR of Hope was founded in 2013 by James Raffone, after his young son, Jamesy, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne is form of muscular dystrophy that is caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene. The absence of dystrophin results in muscle deterioration -- leading to paralysis, decreased cardiac function, and eventual death. Duchenne affects about 300,000 young males worldwide with approximately 20,000 cases in the United States. Currently, Duchenne has no cure and the average life expectancy of those affected is 25 years. However, JAR of Hope is devoted to eliminating the disease by bringing awareness and raising funds directed to ongoing research.
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