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Researchers develop gene therapy to reverse pulmonary arterial hypertension

't know what makes the cells in the lung blood vessel wall grow excessively," says the University of Alberta cardiology professor and Canada Research Chair holder. "And therapies also have to target the lung blood vessels and spare the normal cells in the rest of the body."

The paper is entitled Gene therapy targeting survivin selectively induces pulmonary vascular apoptosis and reverses pulmonary arterial hypertension. It's published in the June issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. In an accompanying editorial entitled Lessons learned from cancer may help in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, written by French researcher Serge Adnot, the journal stated: "These findings raise important issues regarding the role of survivin in the pathogenesis of PAH, its value as a prognostic indicator, and its use as a target for new therapeutic strategies."

Other authors include: Sean McMurtry, Pulmonary Hypertension Program; Stephen Archer, Canada Research Chair in Translational Cardiovascular Research; Dario Altieri, Department of Cancer Biology and the Cancer Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Sebastien Bonnet, Alois Haromy, Gwyneth Harry and Sandra Bonnet, the Vascular Biology Group and Pulmonary Hypertension Program; and Lakshmi Puttagunta, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, U of A.

The latest research builds on previous work by the group, published a few months ago in Circulation Research, showing that an orally available drug, Dichloroacetate, selectively enhances apoptosis in PAH and thus reverses PAH, prolonging the survival of rats. Because this oral therapy has already been tried in humans with congenital mitochondrial diseases, the team is initiating a clinical trial in human PAH. Similarly, newer drugs that inhibit Survivin, currently in trials in oncology, might also be directly applicable to PAH patients, Dr. Michelakis explains.

The researchers are supported by the Canadian Institutes o
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Source:University of Alberta


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