A Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher has discovered that gene therapy could be useful in treating pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary hypertension is a devastating, life-threatening condition, which results in an enlargement of the heart.
"We have discovered an early warning system in a protein called PIM-1," said Dr. Sébastien Bonnet.
"We were surprised to find that the greater the PIM-1 levels, the more severe the pulmonary hypertension in the patient," he added.
PIM-1 also offers the opportunity to move beyond the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension to treatment. By blocking the PIM-1 protein, researchers were able to reverse the condition.
"We have found that using gene therapy to inhibit the inappropriate activation of this protein is a novel and effective therapy that can reverse the disease altogether," Bonnet said.
Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson said that patients should pay particular attention to any symptoms like shortness of breath or extreme tiredness.
Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, the arteries which carry blood from the heart to the lungs. The condition makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the lungs, causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling of the feet and ankles. It can make everyday tasks almost impossible.