GMO viruses for coronary artery disease

Whoda thought that injecting viruses into peoples hearts would be not only fun, but good for their health!  I just wrote about this little guy that can turn regular heart muscle cells into pacemaker cells (in guinea pigs), and here is another cool study hot off the presses:

Long-Term Follow-up Assessment of a Phase 1 Trial of Angiogenic Gene Therapy Using Direct Intramyocardial Administration of an Adenoviral Vector Expressing the VEGF121 cDNA for the Treatment of Diffuse Coronary Artery Disease

There is a cell protein-- VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor-- that convinces your body to make more blood vessels.  Of course where there is too much VEGF around, bad things happen (some tumors need VEGF to grow, Herpes + VEGF can cause blindness), but people with  coronary artery disease have the opposite problem of cancer/HSV patients-- They dont have enough bloodflow to their hearts.

So, we crack open their ribcages and do heart bypass surgery or the minimally invasive version to try to remedy the situation.

... Why not genetically modify some viruses to express VEGF in the heart to grow new blood vessels?


  • Group A-- Got a traditional bypass surgery + GMO VEGF virus
  • Group B-- Could not have traditional therapy for medical reasons, so only got the GMO VEGF virus via a minimally invasive procedure.


  • Group A had a 67% 5 year survival rate.
  • Group B had a 69% 5 year survival rate.
  • Traditional 5 year survival rate: 52-59% according to their literature review.


Instead of being totally screwed, Group B, who only got the GMO virus, ended up living just as people who could tolerate the traditional therapies... !!!!!

This paper also says that Group A had a 10 year survival rate of 40%, with Group B at 31% (Group B already had issues since they couldnt tolerate 'normal' surgeries for coronary artery disease).

Yes, they could calculate 10 year survival rates in this paper, because these are the results of a gene therapy trial that was started in 1997.

This is not some futuristic medical maybe, these are the results of a gene therapy trial that already occurred and and already helped real live human patients!  USING 1997 TECHNOLOGY.

Just for comparison, here is a Nokia cell phone from 1997:

One of its distinctive features, is that it had 8 ringtones.


Here is a modern day Nokia:

This GMO virus from 1997 helped some folks live longer. Knowing what we know today, with the new technology, the new advances we have today, what could a similar virus do?


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Awesome! But... no control group?

By Corkscrew (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

Corkscrew, really? The control group would be the many thousands (or more) of patients who have received traditional bypasses, or other coronary disease related treatment (angioplasty, transplant, medication, etc) since the experiment was started. It is not a small pool of groups with readily available data to pull from.

We are even given a figure for 5+ year survival rates through traditional treatments; 52-59%.

By Inquiring (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink