Scripps Clinic Physicians Participate in Ground Breaking Gene Therapy Study for Cardiovascular Disease

Scripps Clinic is one of only 20 cardiac medical centers in the U.S. participating in a Phase IIb study of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-2 (VEGF-2) for the treatment of severe cardiovascular disease. Richard A. Schatz, MD, co chairman of the Division of Cardiology and research director of cardiovascular interventions at Scripps Clinic’s Heart, Lung and Vascular Center, will direct the ground breaking phase IIb gene therapy trial at Scripps Clinic.

VEGF-2 is a common growth factor that promotes the development of supplemental collateral blood vessels. In this study, a single strand of DNA is engineered to carry the genetic code for VEGF. Then this gene is delivered directly into the patient’s heart muscle which then stimulates the growth of new blood vessels. “Through the growth of these blood vessels, the patient has actually done their own bypass,” reports Schatz.

The randomized double-blinded, dose-ranging and placebo-controlled study will involve up to 404 patients with refractory, Class III or IV angina at 20 locations throughout the U.S. In prior studies, 80 percent of patients respond to the treatment within two to four weeks. Mark Anderson received the treatment September 24. Anderson is a 42-year-old who has been suffering with coronary heart disease since his 30s. He had his first open heart surgery in 1998 and has had approximately five angioplasties, six angiograms and still experiences five to ten episodes of angina a day.

“The people who come to us have no other options. They’re hopeless, often incapacitated with chest pain and view this treatment as their way back to a normal life,” according to Schatz.

Class III and IV angina is the most severe form of angina and result from coronary artery disease. Angina results in chest pain due to a lack of oxygen supply to the heart muscle. More than one-third of the 400,000 newly diagnosed cases in the U.S. are affected by Class III or IV angina.

Founded in 1924, Scripps Clinic is a multi-specialty, outpatient care facility caring for patients at multiple locations throughout San Diego County. Scripps Clinic and its physicians are world-renowned for research-driven care and medical specialty expertise and is an operating unit of Scripps Health, a not-for-profit, community-based health care delivery network that includes more than 2,600 affiliated physicians, five acute-care hospitals, home health care and associated support services. Scripps Health is one of the largest health care organizations in San Diego County, drawing from the expertise of more than 10,000 health care professionals.

For more information about this study, call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777).

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Lisa Ohmstede

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