Heart failure is a debilitating condition that affects more than 750,000 people in the UK. Drugs are available to treat some of the symptoms but there is currently no treatment capable of improving heart function once the disease takes hold and heart cells cannot contract with enough power to pump sufficient blood round the body.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is announcing the beginning of clinical trials for a new gene therapy approach to treatment for advanced heart failure, which has the potential to reverse some of the molecular damage that happens as part of the disease.
This is the only gene therapy currently in clinical trials for the treatment of heart failure, and it works by inserting a gene directly into heart cells via a harmless virus. The announcement of the clinical trials coincides with the ‘Fight For Every Heartbeat’ campaign from the BHF, which highlights the importance of research in the continuing advancement of treatment for heart disease.
The experts involved came to the SMC to talk about about how this gene therapy works, what the clinical trials will involve and what the potential is for the future of heart failure treatment.
Dr Alexander Lyon, BHF Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and Consultant Cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital, who is the UK lead investigator for the studies
Professor Sian Harding, Professor of Cardiac Pharmacology at Imperial College London, who helped to develop the treatment
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the BHF, which is co-funding the trial