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Study could help improve gene therapy for heart disease, cancer
Date:10/12/2011

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- A Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study could lead to improved gene therapies for conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as more effective vaccines for tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases.

Senior author Christopher Wiethoff, PhD, and colleagues report their findings in the October issue of the Journal of Virology. Editors spotlighted the report as one of the "articles of significant interest." Journal of Virology is the leading journal of the study of viruses.

The study involved a virus that causes the common cold, called adenovirus. Scientists have been trying to use a version of this virus as a delivery vehicle for gene therapies and vaccines. (The virus is not able to reproduce and cause disease.) Administering this virus to patients causes an inflammatory reaction, which can be a double-edged sword: The reaction aids in the use of the virus in vaccines but limits its use for gene therapies.

In gene therapy, one or more desired genes are introduced into the adenovirus, which is then administered to the patient. Once in the body, the virus enters targeted cells and delivers the desired genes. In heart disease patients, for example, the virus delivers genes that trigger the growth of new blood vessels in damaged heart muscle. However, when the adenovirus enters a cell to deliver a desired gene, it causes an inflammatory immune response. In extreme cases, this can endanger the patient. In one highly publicized case, a University of Pennsylvania gene therapy patient named Jesse Gelsinger died from a massive immune response triggered by the use of the adenovirus.

In vaccines, the adenovirus delivers one or more genes. These genes instruct cells to produce a specific protein, which is normally part of the targeted pathogen. This protein, in turn, jump-starts the patient's immune system to attack a specific pathogen, such as the bacterium that causes tuberculosis or t
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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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