Page URL:

New in gene therapy

10 September 2001
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 124

Angina pain can be controlled using  gene therapy, scientists have found. Patients with severe heart disease who were not eligible for heart bypass operations, and who took up to 40 tablets per day for their angina, were given gene therapy straight into the heart muscles. At the end of the 12-month trial period it was found that many of the patients had stopped taking their tablets all together, were experiencing fewer angina attacks and had a 'much improved quality of life'.

The gene therapy was based on another therapy which stimulates the growth of blood vessels. It caused an excess of the protein that stimulates blood vessel growth, which countered the effects of the angina. The leader of the research, Professor Christer Sylven from Huddinge University Hospital in Sweden, is now trying to develop an easier mechanism of administering the therapy, as previous trials involved surgery to expose the heart.

Meanwhile, scientists from the US Department of Energy have used gene therapy in rats to reduce the desire to drink alcohol. In the study, which may eventually have implications upon the way alcoholism is diagnosed and treated, involved increasing protein receptors in the brain. Called D2, the protein is a receptor for dopamine, a chemical closely linked to feeling pleasure. Drinking alcohol makes the brain produce more dopamine than usual, but the receptors for it are gradually destroyed by alcohol intake. This means that someone may drink more to try to experience the same levels of pleasure.

The researchers introduced the D2 receptor gene directly into the brains of rats that had been trained to self-administer alcohol, to see if they would start producing more receptors. Levels of the receptors were shown to increase for a short period, in which the rats were studied to see if they preferred alcohol over water. All the rats showed a marked reduction in their alcohol consumption.

Gene therapy reduces drinking in 'alcoholic' rats
ScienceDaily |  7 September 2001
Heart gene therapy can stop angina pain
The Daily Telegraph |  4 September 2001
18 July 2011 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
Researchers at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA, have reported that the injection of stem cells into heart tissue can significantly improve the symptoms of those with severe angina. They found that exercise tolerance was increased and the number of pain episodes was halved, compared to those not given the injections....
15 August 2005 - by BioNews 
A gene discovered in fruit flies may help researchers understand the genetic basis of alcoholism in humans. Scientists at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of Wurzburg in Germany have found a gene that helps fruit flies tolerate alcohol. If a similar gene exists in...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.