Current state of the art for cardiac arrhythmia gene therapy

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Abstract

Cardiac arrhythmias are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Currently available therapeutic options lack sufficient efficacy and safety. Gene therapy has been proposed for treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. This review will discuss the current state of development for arrhythmia gene therapy. So far, all published studies are short-term, proof-of-concept animal studies. Potential replacement of cardiac pacemakers has been shown for combination gene therapy using the HCN2 gene and either the gene for adenylate cyclase, the skeletal muscle isoform of the sodium channel, or a dominant negative mutant of the potassium channel responsible for resting membrane potential. Atrial fibrillation has been prevented by gene transfer of either a dominant negative mutant of a repolarizing potassium channel, a gap junction, or an siRNA directed against caspase 3. Inherited arrhythmia syndromes have been corrected by replacement of the causative genes. Post-infarct ventricular tachycardia has been reduced by gene therapy with the skeletal muscle sodium channel and connexins and eliminated with the dominant negative mutant of the potassium channel responsible for resting membrane potential. These ideas show considerable promise. Long-term efficacy and safety studies are required to see if they can become viable therapies.

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