Gene therapy is a rapidly evolving field of medicine, which potentially offers new treatments for cardiovascular diseases. With the use of gene transfer methods it is possible to modify somatic cells in blood vessels and myocardium to overexpress or inhibit pathologically important proteins and achieve therapeutic effects. Prevention of restenosis after vascular interventions such as percutanous coronary angioplasty (PTCA), percutanous peripheral angioplasty (PTA) or stent implantation, prevention of venous graft failures and therapeutic angiogenesis are the major aims of experimental studies and clinical gene therapy. The promise of gene therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases remains high. Experimental studies have established the proof of principle that gene transfer to cardiovascular system can achieve therapeutic effects. First human clinical trials provided initial evidence of the feasibility and safety of the novel therapy. There are also first successful reports on the prevention of neointimal hyperplasia and promotion of therapeutic angiogenesis in clinical trials. However, there are still important questions regarding utility, efficiency and safety of gene therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. In this review we discuss the rapid progress in cardiovascular gene therapy, the development of delivery systems and vectors, most promising therapeutic genes and results of the recent human clinical trials.
Keywords: gene therapy, cardiovascular, restenosis, angiogenesis, clinical trials, vegf, vectors
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