VEGF gene achieves angiogenesis

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor restores blood flow to areas of cardiac tissue previously hibernating.

By | August 30, 2000

LONDON, August 29 (SPIS MedWire). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been used to increase blood flow to the damaged hearts of patients. The VEGF gene is injected into areas of dead or unresponsive heart muscle, where it is then able to stimulate angiogenesis. Scientists at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, injected the hearts of thirteen patients — eight men and five women. They had all experienced severe angina, had at least one heart attack, and had undergone bypass surgery. The patients were evaluated using NOGA left ventricular electromechanical mapping and single photon emission CT-sestambi imaging, before the gene therapy. After sixty days the tests were carried out again and revealed improved blood flow to the heart. Four of the patients had partial restoration of blood flow to areas of muscle that were assumed to be dead scar tissue, in five of the patients this restoration was complete. At six months follow-up the average number of angina attacks dropped from 48 per week to 2 per week, and the weekly use of nitroglycerin tablets fell from 55 to 2. Professor Jeffrey M Isner, Professor of Medicine and Pathology, concluded, "What we have shown is that VEGF gene transfer is sufficiently potent to provide enough blood supply to rescue an area of hibernating heart muscle. This study provides objective evidence that both gene therapy and a strategy of therapeutic angiogenesis do achieve meaningful biological results."

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