Several clinical trials are evaluating gene transfer as a therapeutic approach to treat cardiac diseases. Although it has just started on the path to clinical application, recent advances in gene delivery technologies with increasing knowledge of underlying mechanisms raise great expectations for the cardiac gene therapy. Although in vivo experiments using small animals provide the therapeutic potential of gene transfer, there exist many fundamental differences between the small animal and the human hearts. Before applying the therapy to clinical patients, large animal studies are a prerequisite to validate the efficacy in an animal model more relevant to the human heart. Several key factors including vector type, injected dose, delivery method and targeted cardiac disease are all important factors that determine the therapeutic efficacy. Selecting the most optimal combination of these factors is essential for successful gene therapy. In addition to the efficacy, safety profiles need to be addressed as well. In this regard, large animal studies are best suited for comprehensive evaluation at the preclinical stages of therapeutic development to ensure safe and effective gene transfer. As the cardiac gene therapy expands its potential, large animal studies will become more important to bridge the bench side knowledge to the clinical arena.
- heart failure