Lisa Delong of Santa Clarita has seen her share of triumph and tragedy.
Her oldest son Justin died of acute lymphocytic leukemia at 15.
Her youngest, 11-year-old Jacob, is currently in remission with the same disease.
Justin initially responded well to treatment as well, but later relapsed and died.
Delong lives in constant fear that the same will happen to Jacob.
But Markus Muschen, a researcher at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles says he has made a discovery that may save the lives of some children who relapse.
We discovered a gene that we think protects the cancer cell and helps it resist chemotherapy," Muschen said. "It may mean we can make a drug to target that gene that will prevent the cancer from coming back.”
Delong, who has two other healthy children, both girls, said: “I started crying when I heard of this discovery.”
Jacob’s doctor, Stuart Siegel said the initial research is heartening.
“If this works, hundreds of children who would otherwise die may be treated successfully," Siegel said.
There is much work yet to be done, Muschen said. Other studies must confirm the gene’s activity and then a drug must be developed and tested on children.
But Delong, who has written a book on her family’s experiences called “Blood Brothers,” hopes for a new chapter; a happy ending.
“We don’t take anything for granted," she said. "We want a long, healthy life for Jacob. We want him to stay healthy forever."