Gene Therapy Shows to be a Good Competitor Against Heart Failure

Gene Therapy Shows to be a Good Competitor Against Heart Failure

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Apr 6, 2014, at 9:50 pm


HEART ATTACKS NOT ONLY STOP BLOOD FLOW, but also may cause severe, long-term effects to the heart during recovery.This frightening threat includes scar tissue covering the heart, hardening it and making it less able to contract. This subsequently results in the decrease of healthy blood flow, which in turn brings about heart failure. One present treatment to this is a heart transplant, but unfortunately the demand is much greater than the supply. Because of this, scientists have long searched for another solution, rather without success. Now, a possibility in a form of gene therapy has recently been seen in pigs.

It has been found in pigs that had suffered a heart attack that a typically dormant gene called Cyclin A2, or CCNA2, can be put into action to fight against the formation of the scar tissue. Heart muscle cells have been regenerated and the volume of blood being pumped has improved in the pigs from this treatment.

The authors of this study are hoping that gene therapy may accompany the present stem cell therapies as treatments for heart failure. Presently, in human clinical trials, stem cell treatments have shown to increase healthy heart tissue, decrease scar mass, and improve the blood being pumped between the chambers. Despite this, though, there are many complications and questions involved.

Of the 18 pigs that were recovering from heart attacks in this study, some were given injections of the gene expressed under a promoter and the others were given the same solution without the gene. The gene-treated pigs showed an improvement of the amount of blood being pumped out with each heartbeat and the amount of heart muscle cells. These results closely resemble those from past studies with mice and rats. Also, similar results were found in a study taken place in a petri dish of pig heart muscle cells treated with the same gene therapy. Researchers also got a glimpse of the successful division of these cells.

If the treatment is successful in humans, all of these positive outcomes from gene therapy could potentially occur in people who have suffered heart attacks. But people have been weary if gene therapy research because of an incident in 1999. Eighteen year old Jesse Gelsinger died in a gene therapy experiment with the goal of curing his rare digestive disorder. This fatality resulted from the virus used to deliver the gene, which caused a severe immune reaction. The case was made rather widely known, in addition to a few other mishaps, causing a decline in gene therapy experiments in humans.

With the past experiences, researchers are full of caution in practicing with this treatment. Also, they now are aware that it is more beneficial to patients who have suffered severe heart attacks than to those with small ones. As for now, a new light has been shed on more effective heart failure treatments.

To read the full article, please visit Scientific American

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

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