For the first time, there is reason to believe that a gene-based treatment for heart disease may truly work. The treatment -- which triggers growth of new blood vessels in hearts with severe hardening of the arteries -- may provide a viable new option for thousands of patients suffering with heart disease.
Treatment options for people with heart disease range from drugs to surgical procedures that open blocked arteries and improve blood flow to the heart. But the success of these treatments has created another problem.
This latest treatment option is still in early testing, but relies on the use of genes to produce proteins called growth factors that stimulate the heart to grow new vessels. The treatment with the growth factor called VEGF-2 worked better, says researcher Douglas Losordo, MD, of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center of Boston. He says that eight of 12 patients treated with VEGF-2 had increased blood flow to the heart -- indicating that the gene caused new blood vessels to grow.