This gene therapy may help prevent heart disease

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Imagine having a way to fix the genes that cause heart disease without invasive procedures or risky treatments.

Scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi have made progress in using a special type of sound called ultrasound to do just that.

Gene therapy is a promising field that could help treat many diseases, including common heart problems like atherosclerosis, which makes our arteries harden.

Recently, a powerful gene-editing tool called CRISPR has shown great potential. However, getting these treatments into our bodies safely and effectively has been a challenge.

Researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi, led by Cynthia Anderson, have found a new way to deliver gene therapy that’s less invasive. Instead of using viruses or complicated methods, they use something we’re all familiar with: ultrasound.

In their study, Anderson and her team mixed small pieces of DNA (the genetic code that makes us who we are) with tiny bubbles. These bubbles are often used in medical scans to create clearer pictures. Then, they injected this mixture into mice.

As the mixture traveled through the mice’s bodies, they used ultrasound waves to gently burst the bubbles.

When this happened, the bits of DNA were released and went to the liver, an important organ for heart health. Once in the liver, they changed a gene called PDE3B.

This gene is like a set of instructions for making a protein that plays a big role in heart health.

When the researchers changed this gene in a certain way, it lowered the levels of unhealthy fats in the blood and protected against heart disease.

A Promising Future for Heart Health

This study shows that we can use ultrasound and tiny bubbles to safely change our genes in a precise way. While the process isn’t as exact as in lab dishes, it’s a step toward better gene therapy for diseases like heart disease.

Overall, it’s a hopeful discovery for those who want to keep their hearts healthy and free from disease. In the future, this kind of treatment might help many people live longer, healthier lives without the need for invasive surgeries or risky treatments.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies about chronic itch linked to heart disease, and drinking coffee this way may prevent heart disease and stroke.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about supplements that could help prevent heart disease, and stroke, and results showing that a year of committed exercise in middle age reversed worrisome heart failure.

The research findings can be found in Molecular Therapy—Nucleic Acids.

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