Saturday May 25, 2019

Gene Therapy Can Help Correct Heart Rhythm Disorder

However, considerable research is still needed before a treatment can be arrived at that is suitable for human patients

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The study modified the levels of the protein encoded by a single gene known as GPR39.  Pixabay

A novel gene therapy uses an implanted LED device to reset a racing heart immediately and automatically, paving the way for pain-free treatment for patients with heart rhythm disorder.

The therapy detects fast arrhythmias in the atrium of a rat’s heart and sends a signal to a LED device placed near the heart.

“The flash of light from this LED then causes the heart to generate an electric current itself to halt the arrhythmia,” said lead investigator Daniel Pijnappels at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“This is made possible by using gene therapy to introduce specific light-sensitive proteins into the heart. This restores the heart’s normal rhythm immediately and automatically,” he added.

According to the researchers, this could represent a great improvement on the current way of stopping atrial fibrillation.

The heart attack brings about activation of certain genes which stay as a permanent memory in genes. Pixabay

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder in clinical practice. The current treatment, known as cardioversion, is based on administering an electric shock to the heart, which has to be done in the hospital under general anaesthesia because of pain.

For many patients, this is the only treatment to immediately stop atrial fibrillation because drugs or an operation are ineffective.

“The bioelectronic defibrillator can stop atrial fibrillation without an electrical shock. In this way, the heart can be reset in a fully automated manner and at any time,” Pijnappels said, in the paper reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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“We anticipate that this treatment for atrial fibrillation could improve both the patient’s quality of life and their prognosis,” he added.

However, considerable research is still needed before a treatment can be arrived at that is suitable for human patients, the researchers noted. (IANS)

Next Story

To Ensure Transparency, WHO Panel Aims for Registry of All Human Gene-Editing Research

The WHO panel's statement said any human gene-editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

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According to 996.icu, the 72-hour work week schedule has long been practiced in “secret,” but recently more companies have been openly discussing the arrangement. VOA

It would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct human gene-editing studies in people, and a central registry of research plans should be set up to ensure transparency, World Health Organization experts said Tuesday.

After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene-editing experts — which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies — said it had agreed on a framework for setting future standards.

It said a central registry of all human genome-editing research was needed “in order to create an open and transparent database of ongoing work,” and asked the WHO to start setting up such a registry immediately.

“The committee will develop essential tools and guidance for all those working on this new technology to ensure maximum benefit and minimal risk to human health,” Soumya Swamanathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said in a statement.

FILE - He Jiankui, left, and Zhou Xiaoqin work a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province, Oct. 10, 2018. Chinese scientist He says he helped make the world's first genetically edited babies.
– He Jiankui, left, and Zhou Xiaoqin work a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province, Oct. 10, 2018. Chinese scientist He says he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies. VOA

A Chinese scientist last year claimed to have edited the genes of twin baby girls.

News of the births prompted global condemnation, in part because it raised the ethical specter of so-called “designer babies” — in which embryos can be genetically modified to produce children with desirable traits.

Top scientists and ethicists from seven countries called last week for a global moratorium on gene editing of human eggs, sperm or embryos that would result in such genetically-altered babies — saying this “could have permanent and possibly harmful effects on the species.”

The WHO panel’s statement said any human gene-editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

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After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene-editing experts — which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies — said it had agreed on a framework for setting future standards. Pixabay

“It is irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing.”

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The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the panel’s initial plans. “Gene editing holds incredible promise for health, but it also poses some risks, both ethically and medically,” he said in a statement.

The committee said it aims over the next two years to produce “a comprehensive governance framework” for national, local and international authorities to ensure human genome-editing science progresses within agreed ethical boundaries. (VOA)