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. REUTERS/Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute/Handout
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Injecting a certain gene into cardiac muscle has been shown in animal studies to help a weakened heart beat more strongly, scientists said 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.gene therapy has long been viewed as a promising but risky field, particularly after early attempts to use it in people in the 1990s showed it could be dangerous and even fatal.Marban said the use of a mild virus as a delivery vector for the gene should reduce concerns that typically arise in gene therapy, such as the potential for a deadly immune reaction or the possibility that the process could lead to the formation of a tumor, but acknowledged that more research is needed.The gene converts some of the normal heart cells into another type, called sinoatrial cells, which take over the heart's pumping duties.
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