Gene therapy trial gives hope to people with heart failure

5 September 2013        

Category: Survival and support

Heart patient receiving treatment

We've played a key part in the first UK clinical trials of a gene therapy for heart failure. If successful, the trials could give hope to some people living with the devastating effects of heart failure.

The trials are being led by Dr Alexander Lyon and Professor Sian Harding who are working with other leading doctors and researchers from Imperial College London, the Royal Brompton Hospital, and several other hospitals across the UK and the world.

The trials are part of a huge range of groundbreaking research funded by us to help people living with heart failure – which also includes our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, our quest to find a treatment to repair or replace lost heart muscle after a heart attack.

What do the trials involve?

The trials use a gene therapy to tackle some of the changes that occur in the heart during heart failure. The therapy involves adding DNA directly to heart cells to correct a genetic problem in failing heart cells, that can stop the heart from beating powerfully enough to pump blood round the body properly.

This early clinical study is the culmination of years of BHF funded laboratory research and offers real promise for the future.

It's the first gene therapy to be used in patients with heart failure in the UK. The first patients have begun receiving the treatment. Doctors select participants according to very strict criteria, and contact patients directly if they are eligible. It's not possible to enrol yourself to receive the treatment at the moment.

Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said:

“Whilst drugs can offer some relief, there is currently no way of restoring function to the heart for those suffering with heart failure. This early clinical study is the culmination of years of BHF funded laboratory research and offers real promise.

“Gene therapy is one of the new frontiers in heart science and is a great example of the cutting edge technologies that the BHF is using to fight heart failure. Gene therapy aims to improve the function of weak heart muscle cells, whereas our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is aimed at finding ways to replace dead heart muscle cells after a heart attack. Both approaches are novel and both offer great potential for the future.”

Support our life-saving research

The launch of these clinical trials marks the culmination of more than 20 years of research we've funded. It's only been possible because of the generous donations of our supporters.

Help us find a cure for heart failure today - support our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal

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