Genetic therapy for damaged hearts

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The Independent Online
GENETIC engineering is being used to mend broken hearts, the conference heard yesterday, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Clinical trials have started in a New York hospital in which genes are injected directly into patients' damaged hearts to help restore their blood circulation. The genes, carried in the same virus that causes the common cold, stimulate new blood vessels to grow. These bypass the damaged, clogged up ones which cause heart disease.

Dr Ronald Crystal of New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, who heads the research, says that within a few years gene injections could replace open chest heart-bypass surgery for some patients with chronic cardio- vascular disease. Dr Crystal's team also did pioneering work on using gene therapy to combat cystic fibrosis.