Newsroom

Our Stories

New animal research demonstrates the potential of ultrasonic gene delivery to treat cardiovascular diseases

Toronto, June 12, 2015

Dr. Howard Leong-Poi
Dr. Howard Leong-Poi

Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital are testing a new non-invasive method to deliver gene therapy that may help limit damage to heart muscle when used as part of immediate treatment for people who have suffered a heart attack.

While the primary treatment for acute myocardial infarction is to open the blockage in the patient’s coronary artery, often with the use of catheters (angioplasty), secondary treatments to preserve the heart muscle may further enhance recovery.

“Our research involves a non-invasive technique to treat acute heart attacks, using microbubbles that carry genes and high power ultrasound to facilitate delivery to the heart,” said Dr. Howard Leong-Poi, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s and a scientist in the hospital’s Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science.

S100A6 genes are inserted on the surface of tiny bubbles made of fat, and administered by intravenous injection. Using high-intensity external ultrasound applied over the chest, physicians can burst the bubbles as they flow through the heart muscle, delivering the target gene into the area of the heart attack.

Research in rats has found that using ultrasound and microbubbles to deliver S100A6 genes into the heart attack region results in smaller infarct size, less scar formation and improved function of the heart one month after the heart attack.

The research was to be presented Sunday (June 14, 2015) during the American Society of Echocardiography’s 26th Annual Scientific Sessions in Boston.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media contacts

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Leong-Poi, please contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy, St. Michael's Hospital
416-864-6094
shepherdl@smh.ca