Heart patients to live longer thanks to new gene therapy

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | heart disease | Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – 5:02 a.m.


HEART DISEASE, LIVE LONGER Imagine that could one day be able to save the hearts of people by replacing their pacemaker an injection of genes. For example “grow-your-own” pacemaker are now one step closer to reality.

Research and development is underway. By injecting a single gene in pigs patients suffering from a condition that slows the heart rate, scientists have successfully become heart cells in pacemaker cells.

In a study by Los Angeles’ Heart Institute Cedars-Sinai and published in Translational Medicine Science in July, 12 pigs with heart block – a condition where it slows or stops the signal electricity as it moves through the heart – were injected either with the single gene, called TBX18, to reprogram cells, or a green fluorescent protein that acts as a placebo

In simple terms, this gene therapy. makes billions of regular heart muscle cells in much rarer specialized cells that keep the heart beating. The miracles of science!

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The patch cell-pepper size acted as a pacemaker for a period of two weeks, which function as conventional one. During this same period, cardiologists analyzed the average heart rate of pigs in the morning when they ate and at night they slept. They found that gene therapy was fast acting, reprogramming muscle cells enough to effectively regulate heart rate of 24 to 48 hours. After eight days of testing, the average heart rate was much higher in pigs receiving therapy than those who did not.

A huge potential for new gene therapy

“We have been able, for the first time to create a biological pacemaker using minimally invasive methods and to demonstrate that the biological pacemaker is compatible with the demands of everyday life, “lead researcher Eduardo Marban said al BBC . “We are also the first to reprogram a heart cell in a living animal …”

This “biological pacemaker” as has been dubbed by researchers, could be useful for certain patients, including those who develop electronic pacemaker infections and the need for retirees temporarily devices or fetuses with life-threatening heart problems that can not have an implanted electronic pacemaker.

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Living longer with heart disease

Since the 1960s, the pacemakers have been widely available, and we have steadily improved, more secure and sophisticated. Conventional electronic pacemakers are implanted in the chest to control abnormal heart rhythm. electronic pacemaker restore normal function of deceleration and arrhythmic heart by using electricity to stimulate the heartbeat. That is usually a function performed by a group of thousands of heart cells that tell the heart to pump at a regular pace.

These mechanisms can save lives of many people with abnormal or slow heart rhythms . But they require invasive surgery to be installed, carry the risk of infection and can activate alarms during airport security checks. So scientists have long awaited the day when an implant is no longer needed by patients.

Of course, the applications of this new research are still a long way to go. And the benefits of a pacemaker usually outweigh the risks. Still, pig hearts are similar to human hearts in size and the way they work, so there is good reason to believe that the new findings could translate to humans.

Meanwhile, pacemakers remain an important treatment for many abnormal heart rhythms, keep the heart beating regularly and save lives.

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