New therapies for the failing heart: trans-genes versus trans-cells

  • Vincenzo Lionetti
    Sector of Medicine, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy

    Fondazione G. Monasterio Regione Toscana-CNR, Pisa, Italy
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  • Fabio A. Recchia
    Reprint requests: Fabio A Recchia, MD, PhD, Department of Physiology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595
    Sector of Medicine, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy

    Fondazione G. Monasterio Regione Toscana-CNR, Pisa, Italy

    Department of Physiology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY
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      During the past 30 years, hundreds of pharmacological agents have been developed for the treatment of heart failure; yet few of them ultimately have been tested in patients. Such a disconcerting debacle has spurred the search for non pharmacological therapies, including those based on cardiac delivery of transgenes and stem cells. Cardiac gene therapy preceded stem cell therapy by approximately 10 years; however, both of them already have known an initial phase of enormous enthusiasm followed by moderate-to-strong skepticism, not necessarily justified. The aim of the present review is to discuss succinctly some key aspects of these 2 biological therapies and to argue that, after a phase of disillusionment, gene therapy for the failing heart likely will have the chance to regain the stage. In fact, discoveries in stem cell biology might revitalize gene therapy and, vice versa, gene therapy might potentiate synergistically the regenerative capacity of stem cells.


      AAV1 (adeno-associated viral vectors), HF (heart failure), LV (left ventricular), SERCA2a (sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase), VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor)
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