Medical Minute 11-28:

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

Ryan Ballou suffers from a rare genetic disease passed from mother to son. "Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy." It causes breathing and heart muscles to breakdown and fibrosis or scarring to develop. Ryan's dad Ty knows it will eventually kill his boy.

"Ryan will have lung failure and or..ummm he will have a heart attack," said Ty Ballou, Ryan's Dad.

But because of various medications, Ryan's damaged heart is still strong. Cardiologist Subha Ramen saw promise in the minimally scarred muscle.

"So, it made me wonder if it was possible to treat fibrosis at an early stage," said Dr. Subha Raman Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine Ohio State University Medical Center.

Along with Ohio State University researchers Jill-Rafael-Fortney and Paul Jansen, Doctor Ramen wanted to test a combination of the common heart failure drugs spironolactone and lisinopril.

"Both of the drugs are known to be anti-fibrotic or prevent scarring," said Dr. Jill Rafael-Fortney Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Ohio State University.

But there was no money to do that, so, Ty and Ryan created Ballou skies.

"I said to hell with it. Whatever you need, you get the kids, we're gonna get the money. I started doing these crazy triathalons."

Now, Ballou skies has its own tri-athalon team. Ty says with help from the athletes, Ballou skies has raised more than 70-thousand dollars for the research effort.

"It's nice that we're actually kind of helping speed along the research," said Ryan Ballou, Has DMD.

Wearing a Ballou skies bracelet for inspiration, Doctor Ramen says without that money there would be no research. Now that is it happening, the team is seeing improvement in heart muscle structure and function. And they're surprised by the effects on skeletal muscles.

"We saw a doubling of muscle force, so the muscles in the limb and the diaphragm were twice as strong."

Results made possible by Ballou skies that could some day prolong its co-founders life and others just like him.

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