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澳门金沙互联网娱乐平台网站:Catching a cure

作者:于羔    发布时间:2019-03-07 03:07:01    

By Robert Adler LIFE-SAVING genes can be safely ferried into a failing heart by a modified cold virus, the first human trials show. Despite earlier evidence that injecting a modified virus can cause inflammation in rats, the way is now clear for larger studies to see if gene therapy can treat heart disease. Doctors can alleviate some cases of heart disease with medication or bypass surgery, but the techniques are often ineffective, says Todd Rosengart, a heart surgeon at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He and professor of medicine Ronald Crystal have been searching for a way to get an ailing heart to grow new blood vessels. “When you’re an embryo, your heart has genes that tell it how to make blood vessels,” says Crystal. “We’re using the same gene to remind the heart of what it used to know how to do.” The researchers knew that the gene for vascular endothelial growth factor caused new blood vessel growth. They modified an adenovirus so that it could not replicate but was still able to insert genes for the growth factor into heart muscle cells. Adenoviruses are ideal for the task, because the DNA they insert is broken down within a week, before too many vessels can grow. “If you grow too many new blood vessels, you get a tangled mess,” says Crystal. However, many researchers have called for caution over the use of adenoviruses for gene therapy. Some strains have been found to cause an immune response and serious inflammation in lab animals. And in humans, adenoviruses have been linked to inflammation of the heart (New Scientist, 29 November 1997, p 10). But the new work suggests the virus may be safe for gene therapy after all. The researchers injected gene-carrying viruses directly into the heart muscle surrounding blocked arteries in 21 patients with severe heart disease. None of their patients showed any adverse effects, and new blood vessels grew in several of the injected hearts. “We did a lot of studies looking for problems,” Crystal says, “and we found nothing.” But Andrew George, an immunologist at Imperial College, London, isn’t convinced. “When you’re doing gene therapy,” he says,

 

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