December 20, 2011
Gene therapy shows promise for diabetic heart disease
Diabetes can reduce blood supply to the heart, causing
heart failure. Research partly funded by us has shown that boosting
a protective protein in the heart, using gene therapy, may have
potential as a future treatment.
Diabetic heart failure is a
debilitating condition when the heart can’t pump strongly enough to
meet the demands of our bodies.
Research led by a BHF-funded
scientist in Bristol has shown that, in mice, using gene therapy to
boost levels of a natural protective agent called NGF can prevent
the life-threatening heart problems caused by diabetes.
This study suggests that there is real promise for NGF gene therapy in future to alleviate heart failure in diabetic patients
The team discovered that
diabetes caused a reduction in NGF in the hearts of mice. They
counteracted this by using a specially engineered
to deliver extra copies of the NGF gene into the
heart, and they saw that this prevented deterioration of the
Professor Jeremy Pearson, our Associate
Medical Director, said: "Targeted gene therapy is now becoming a
realistic prospect for several human diseases. This study suggests
that there is real promise for NGF gene therapy in
future to alleviate heart failure in diabetic patients – a major
and often fatal complication of the
The potential of NGF
The researchers, led by BHF Senior
Research Fellow Professor
Costanza Emanueli at the Bristol Heart Institute, have
previously shown that NGF can also stimulate the growth of new
blood vessels in the heart and improve survival in
mice after heart attack.
Professor Emanueli said: “Our study
represents a major advance in tackling heart disease in diabetics,
a leading cause of death in the western world. It also
represents one important step forward in our goal for translating
NGF-based therapies in cardiovascular patients.”
The research is published in
Diabetes, the journal
of the American Diabetes Association.