Heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in children, affecting up to 1 in 100 live births. This equates to approximately 65,000 children and young adults living with a form of childhood heart disease (CHD), such as congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, or acquired heart disease. Surgical advances over the past 20 years have dramatically increased survival rates in these patients, with more than 85% of now living into adulthood. As a result CHD is now considered a life-long disease.
An emerging and alarming trend is the sharp rise in the number of children with CHD hospitalised due to heart failure, a condition whereby the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body. Currently, heart failure can only be resolved by heart transplantation, but the gap between the number of donors and the number of children with heart failure requiring transplantation is growing. As a result, there are increasing numbers of children on mechanical assist support at RCH requiring heart transplantation.
The cost of treating childhood failure is growing, with the annual total inpatient cost for heart failure in Australian paediatric hospitals estimated to be $118,796,830 in 2016, representing 2% of overall paediatric hospital costs in Australia. Current treatment options are clearly inadequate and new approaches to radically change patient trajectories are imperative.
Whilst mainstream cardiology and cardiac surgery focus their efforts on disease management, there is little emphasis placed on underlying causes and novel treatments. Recent advances in genomics and stem cell technologies have the potential to revolutionise clinical care for CHD patients via novel regenerative approaches to repair and replace damaged heart tissue, thus offering a curative approach to heart failure. CardioRegen is uniquely positioned to capitalise on these recent technological advances to deliver better outcomes for children with CHD.
Our translational pipeline is outlined below: