10:37 02 May 2013
Gene therapy trial, which uses engineered “heart-healing” virus to help patients heal their damaged hearts, is set to begin. 200 patients in the UK will be part of the pioneering trial.
The virus will be inserted into their leg and will be pushed up through the blood vessels. Patients will be injected with additional copies of a healthy gene to get additional protein needed to regulate the rhythmic contraction of the heart’s muscles.
The British Heart Foundation says that gene therapy has the potential to help over 750,000 people in the UK who have damaged hearts. However, the therapy must be proven in clinical trials before it will be offered to the public.
Prof Sian Harding, from Imperial College London, told the BBC in one report: "It's bringing [the heart] back to the point where patients were pretty well, just after the initial damage occurred.
"We think this is a treatment that can improve quality of life for quite a lot of people."
The first trial will be at the Royal Brompton Hospital inLondon and Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow. The second trial, which will involve 24 patients who were fitted with an “artificial heart” will take place at the Harefield and Papworth hospitals.
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