Heart failure represents an enormous clinical challenge in need of effective therapeutic approaches. The possibility of gene therapy for heart failure merits consideration at this time because of improvements in vector technology; cardiac gene delivery; and, most importantly, our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of heart failure. We will first review recent advances in cardiac gene delivery in animal models and then examine several targets being considered for therapeutic intervention. In this context, gene transfer provides not only a potential therapeutic modality but also an important tool to help validate specific targets. Several interventions, particularly those enhancing sarcoplasmic calcium transport, show promise in animal models of heart failure and in myopathic cardiomyocytes derived from patients. However, bridging the gap between these basic investigative studies and clinical gene therapy remains a formidable task. Early experiments in rodents will need to be extended to large-animal models with clinical-grade vectors and delivery systems to assess both efficacy and safety. On the basis of a foundation of rigorous science and a growing understanding of heart failure pathogenesis, there is reason for cautious optimism for the future.
- Ca cycling
- Excitation-contraction coupling
- Gene therapy
- Heart failure