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Genetic defects are the cause of half of all heart transplants and are the leading cause of heart death in young people. The new procedure involves injecting a healthy version of the faulty gene into a patient’s arm to enable the production of proteins that result in normal heart function.
The CureHeart group is behind the treatment, having been granted £30million from the British Heart Foundation to perfect its technology.
CureHeart project lead Professor Hugh Watkins, of Oxford University, said: “This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to relieve families of the constant worry of sudden death, heart failure and potential need for a heart transplant.”
“After 30 years of research, we have discovered many of the genes and specific genetic faults responsible for different cardiomyopathies, and how they work.”
“We believe that we will have a gene therapy ready to start testing in clinical trials in the next five years.”
“This absolutely is something that will work in the end, it’s just a question of time.”
Every week in the UK, 12 people under the age of 35 die of an undiagnosed heart condition, very often caused by an inherited heart muscle disease.
Junior football star Daniel Yorath, 15, was having a kickabout with father Terry, the former Wales and Leeds United legend, in their back garden in 1992 when he collapsed and died.
A post-mortem examination revealed Daniel had a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it harder for the heart
to pump blood.
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