Two independent groups of researchers are making progress in the use of gene therapy in developing biological pacemakers. A study led by researchers from UC Davis, report of successfully delivering a gene encoding a bioengineered cell-surface protein to heart muscle cells of pigs. The protein, which mimics the combined action of ion channel proteins crucial to maintaining the normal pacing of heartbeats. This results suggest that scientists are that much closer into developing a biological alternative to electronic pacemakers. The study is published online in Circulation.
Published in the same issue are the results of researchers from Columbia University and State University of New York demonstating the potential of using a mE324A mutant murine HCN2 as a biological pacemaker.
Researchers believe that this approach of using gene therapy to treat heart arrhythmias will be more permanent, reliable and less invasive alternative to implanted electronic devices.