A new gene therapy has managed to repair the heart from a heart attack, erasing or reducing its scars and stimulating regeneration with cardiac cell proliferation. The Italian-led experiment was successful on pigs and the data gives hope that in five years we can experiment on humans.
“It is a very exciting time,” says Mauro Giacca, from the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Icgeb) in Trieste, which coordinated the research with Fabio Recchia, of the Sant’Anna School in Pisa. The Monasterio Foundation of Pisa also collaborated, under the supervision of Giovanni Aquaro, and the School of Cardiovascular Medicine & Sciences of King’s College London. “After so many unsuccessful attempts over the last 15 years trying to use stem cells, for the first time we have understood how it is possible to repair the heart on a large animal by directly stimulating the properties of the cardiac cells that survived the damage”.
It will take time for human experimentation to take place. Researchers have begun testing this technique on pigs and think they will have the results within 6 months. “If everything goes well, as we think within 5 years we could have concluded the clinical trial on man”.