A new gene therapy technique could increase the chances for heart bypass patients. Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, heart specialists in a Massachusetts hospital and colleagues at Stanford University in California have used high levels of pressure to force antisense DNA into blood vessel cells before they are implanted.
Segments of human vein were placed in a cylinder and a solution of DNA fragments capable of binding to the interleukin-6 gene - one of the genes that causes inflammation - added. The pressure was then briefly doubled, resulting in an even distribution of DNA into tissues.
Previous animal studies have shown that knocking out the genes that cause abnormal growth and inflammation before implanting the vein can help the bypass. But in the animal studies, viruses were used to deliver antisense DNA that bound to transcripts of the problem genes, preventing their transcription into proteins. Further concerns were also raised about using viruses for gene therapy in humans.
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