Genes to re-grow heart

Doctors may finally be successful in growing new heart cells. Research reported in the Circulation journal details the results of a new study to understand more about the treatment of a common heart problem called angina.

Angina occurs when blood vessels cannot get enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart to meet the demand, particularly during physical exertion. The most common side effect is chest pain. In the past, doctors have treated the condition either with medication to slow the heart’s beating, or surgery to bypass or correct the affected areas.

Doctors have been studying the use of therapy to inject genes that help re-grow heart cells. This research, conducted at eight medical centers, looked at the effects of gene therapy in 79 patients. Doctors injected an inactive virus, called Ad5 (containing the human FGF4 gene) into 60 patients. The human FGF4 gene can stimulate blood vessel growth.

Doctors compared each person’s exercise treadmill time (ETT) before and after therapy. Treated patients improved more in their treadmill time than untreated patients. While the doctors are pleased with their initial results, they are cautious. They say further research will need to be conducted.

Several of the co-authors of the study are founders and consultants of the company who makes the virus-gene combination. This study was partly funded by that company, Collateral Therapeutics, Inc.

SOURCE: Circulation, 2002;105:1291-1297

You may also like...