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One-off Gene therapy injection could significantly reduce heart attack risk

One-off Gene therapy injection could significantly reduce heart attack risk

A cure for heart failure could be on the horizon after scientists work out how to regenerate specialised cells in the muscle using gene therapy.

One-off Gene therapy injection could significantly reduce heart attack risk

Researchers have announced plans for a radical gene therapy that aims to significantly reduce the risk of heart attack with a one-off injection.

Researchers from King’s College London have found that gene therapy can induce heart cells to regenerate after a heart attack.

Injecting the gene, which drives cell growth in babies, could restore tissue which is damaged during a heart attack, the new study on pigs has found.

At present, when a patient survives a heart attack, they are left with permanent structural damage to their heart through the formation of a scar, which can lead to heart failure in the future.

Heart attack: The world’s leading cause of death

Myocardial infarction, more commonly known as a heart attack, caused by the sudden blocking of one of the cardiac coronary arteries, is the main cause of heart failure, a condition that now affects over 23 million population in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

In this study, published in the journal Nature, the team of investigators delivered a small piece of genetic material, called microRNA-199, to the heart of pigs, after a myocardial infarction which resulted in the almost complete recovery of cardiac function at one month later.

The gene therapy which aims to restart a growth process which ends when people are babies, experts believe will force the heart to rebuild itself and become healthy again within weeks.

“It is a very exciting moment for the field. After so many unsuccessful attempts at regenerating the heart using stem cells, which all have failed so far, for the first time we see real cardiac repair in a large animal,” says lead author Professor Mauro Giacca, from King’s College London.

With a one-off gene therapy that permanently protects against heart attacks, the researchers hope to transform not only the impact heart disease has on lives, but the costs that health services face in caring for patients.

Professor Giacca says that it will be some time before they can proceed to clinical trials.

Last year, scientists began trialling a new blood test that in future may help rule out a heart attack within 15 minutes.

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