Charles Bridges, MD, ScD, Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pennsylvania Hospital, has been awarded a $3 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for his work in molecular cardiac surgery: a unique approach to gene therapy for heart failure.
The four-year grant will enable Dr. Bridges to expand upon his current research in large-animal molecular cardiac surgery (a term coined by Dr. Bridges). This methodology could provide alternatives both to heart transplantation and to the use of permanent mechanical-assist devices in some humans with end-stage heart failure. Molecular cardiac surgery, if successful, will be more powerful therapeutically and avoid the problems of rejection, infection, increased stroke risk and device failure often associated with these existing technologies.
Genes, which are carried on chromosomes, are the basic units of heredity. They produce proteins that directly or indirectly carry out all life functions. When genes are absent or defective, proteins are unable to carry out their normal functions, resulting in genetic disorders. In gene therapy, a functioning gene replaces an absent or faulty gene, so that the body can make the correct protein and consequently eliminate the root cause of a disease.
Using molecular cardiac surgery, Dr. Bridges group was the first in the world to convincingly demonstrate that marker genes could be efficiently inserted into the majority of heart muscle cells in large animals like dogs and sheep. What makes this approach so unique is that Dr. Bridges group uses a novel, patent-pending cardiac surgical procedure and specially designed hardware as a platform for the most efficient delivery of genes to heart muscle cells ever achieved in large animals. Prior to Dr. Bridges work, research in other laboratories had not proved successful in achieving global, heart-specific gene
|Contact: Lee-Ann Landis|
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine