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Inhalable gene therapy may help pulmonary arterial hypertension patients
Date:7/30/2013

ife sustaining therapy."

When SERCA2a is down-regulated, calcium stays longer in the cells than it should, and it induces pathways that lead to overgrowth of new and enlarged cells. According to researchers, the delivery of the SERCA2a gene produces SERCA2a enzymes, which helps both heart and lung cells restore their proper use of calcium.

"We are now on a path toward PAH patient clinical trials in the near future," says Dr. Hajjar, who developed the gene therapy approach. Studies in large animal models are now underway. SERCA2a gene therapy has already been approved by the National Institutes of Health for human study.

A Simple Inhalation Corrects Deadly Dysfunction

PAH most commonly results from heart failure in the left side of the heart or from a pulmonary embolism, when clots in the legs travel to the lungs and cause blockages. When the lung is damaged from these conditions, the tissue starts to quickly produce new and enlarged cells, which narrows pulmonary arteries. This increases the pressure inside them. The high pressure in these arteries resists the heart's effort to pump through them and the blood flow between the heart and lungs is reduced. The right side of the heart then must overcome the resistance and work harder to push the blood through the pulmonary arteries into the lungs. Over time, the right ventricle becomes thickened and enlarged and heart failure develops.

The gene therapy that Dr. Hajjar developed uses a modified adeno-associated viral-vector that is derived from a parvovirus. It works by introducing a healthy SERCA2a gene into cells, but this gene does not incorporate into a patient's chromosome, according to the study's lead author, Lahouaria Hadri, PhD, an Instructor of Medicine in Cardiology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

"The clinical trials in congestive heart failure have shown already that the gene therapy is very safe," says Dr. Hadri. Between 40-50 pe
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Contact: Lauren Woods
lauren.woods@mountsinai.org
212-241-2836
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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