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Injecting gene into heart muscle may replace pacemaker

Published on Jul 17, 2014 7:09 AM
Scientists carry out biological pacemaker research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, California, in this undated handout photo courtesy of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Injecting a certain gene into cardiac muscle has been shown in animal studies to help a weakened heart beat more strongly, scientists said on Wednesday.

If shown to be safe and effective in people, experts said the procedure might one day replace the need for electronic pacemakers, though that knowledge is years away.

"This development heralds a new era of gene therapy, where genes are used not only to correct a deficiency disorder, but actually to convert one type of cell into another to treat disease," said lead author Eduardo Marban, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

It is the first time that a heart cell has been preprogrammed in a living animal in order to cure a disease, said Mr Marban.

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