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How Can Genes Cure Congestive Heart Failure

Nov 8, 2007
It is very common that congestive heart failure follows another severe type of heart injury. Until lately scientists and doctors had no way to recognize those at risk. New research into genes and gene therapy have fashioned them a potential weapon in the fight against congestive heart failure.

Scientists have built upon various discoveries regarding the effect of genes in the detection and treatment of congestive heart failure. Several years ago it was discovered that a small percentage of patients who had suffered congestive heart failure possessed a failure in the gene that allows the body to detect dangerous stress signals; in essence, the heart does not recognize that it is operating too hard and is unable to to adjust.

This percentage may appear insignificant; although, the gene mutation was not found in any of the healthy patients examined. Researchers stress that this is a susceptibility factor and not a source of congestive heart failure; however, it may be the breaking point to determining if a heart suffering from other disease will fail. Detection of this mutation may allow doctors to recognize and treat patients at risk before their heart deteriorates instead of subsequently.

This flaw is found in the ATP-sensitive potassium channels and is caused by a genetic mutation. The potassium channel regulates potassium and calcium levels in the body. As the heart requires calcium to work, a surplus of calcium leads to harm. This is the reason why calcium blockers are commonly dispensed to patients with congestive heart failure. Fortunately, medications used to open the potassium channel already exist.

In addition, a failure of the delta-sarcoglycan gene has been seen in hamsters with muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. This gene is the cytoskeleton of muscle fibers, and successful transplants of an everyday human delta-sarcoglycan gene has been shown to make a tremendous improvement in these animals. This is noteworthy insofar as current transplant attempts require open heart surgery. This variety of gene transplant is carried on a virus, eliminating the necessity of surgery.

Scientists had been concerned with using this system of gene therapy attributable to the need for a systemic feature. There was also some concern that the body's natural immune system would eliminate the virus of its own accord before successful delivery of the gene; all the same, they believe they have found the best manner of virus to successfully slip around the body's customary defenses.

Whilst transplanting the delta-sarcoglycan gene researchers used a type 8 adeno-attendant virus, attaching the corrective gene onto it as it was inserted into the body. This permitted the gene to be carried to all areas of the body in animals with muscular dystrophy without being devastated by the body's own natural immunity.

Gene therapy is still highly experimental, and researchers are uncertain yet of the part it will play in the overthrow of congestive heart failure; although, this represents a technology that was unavailable in the past. Continuing advancements in technology and medicine's knowledge of the body's workings may one day unlock the mysteries to the cure of this deadly complaint.
About the Author
Mark has suffered with a congestive heart problem since 1994 and is now severely disabled. He now maintains a website for anyone who wants information on congestive heart problems. More informative articles on Heart Disease are available here.
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