Researchers at Jefferson Medical College and Duke University have used gene therapy to help damaged heart cells regain strength and beat normally again in the laboratory. The work takes the scientists one step closer to eventual clinical trials in humans.
Walter Koch, Ph.D., director of the Center for Translational Medicine of the Department of Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and his colleagues at Duke used a virus to carry a gene into the heart cells of individuals who had suffered from congestive heart failure. The gene introduced into these heart cells blocks the activity of an enzyme that is increased in failing human hearts and which contributes to the loss of the hearts contractile strength during the development of heart failure. When the activity of this enzyme is blocked by the gene therapy, the heart cells were able to contract at normal strength and their overall performance was improved.
Dr. Koch and his co-workers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., report their findings April 6, 2004, in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.
Steve Benowitz | EurekAlert!
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