June 3, 2010

Gene Therapy For Heart Failure In The Process Of Evaluation

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Helpful Heart Links, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:32 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Results of the first human study of gene therapy for heart failure were publicly revealed at a conference for cardiologists called the Heart Failure Congress this past week.  This innovative new therapy to treat people with failing hearts may be just the beginning of a new revolution in medical therapy.  According to theheart.org, “administration of a gene that upregulates an enzyme involved in myocardial contraction and relaxation appeared to improve symptoms, functional status, and ventricular volumes in patients with severe systolic heart failure.”  The “biopharmaceutical” which was injected into the heart failure patients is called Mydicar (registered trademark of Celladon Corporation).  The small study consisted of 39 patients and reviewed their improvements in exercise tolerance, symptoms, ejection fraction by echocardiogram and certain blood tests.  After 6 months a significant number of patients showed enough improvement to warrant further testing of the gene therapy.

Current heart failure patients should avoid getting their hopes up just yet though.  It does not seem that gene therapy will be replacing your pocketful of heart failure pills anytime in the near future.  As is the case with any new treatment, controversy is already brewing.  Several problems associated with the study and the gene therapy include:

  1. it requires invasive injection into the heart muscle via heart catheterization
  2. the study results did not include review of the traditional endpoints such as increasing number of deaths
  3. higher dosages of the gene therapy did not show significant benefit in some instances
  4. patients still required the usual heart failure medications in addition to the gene therapy

You can read more about the therapy at the Celladon website. At the very least, Mydicar will probably move on to the next step in clinical trials very soon.  Who knows?  Maybe this will lead to a whole new revolution in heart treatment!  One can only hope and pray…

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