UF researchers score gene therapy advance: Animal study shows high blood pressure prevented in future generations

GAINESVILLE---A form of gene therapy to ward off high blood pressure in rats appears to permanently alter the animals' DNA blueprint, preventing their offspring from inheriting the disorder, University of Florida scientists report today (11/12) in Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The advance represents the first time researchers have been able to protect future generations through gene therapy for any condition, said UF molecular physiologist Mohan K. Raizada. Other studies have shown random bits of inserted genes can be passed on, but with no therapeutic effect. The new approach involves using a form of genetic brilliance to block the action of a harmful hormone, angiotensin, which causes blood vessels to narrow, increasing blood pressure.

"The neat part of this study is we're able to show both the effects on high blood pressure as well as on the organs involved in the control of blood pressure," Raizada said. "We have shown that this form of gene therapy not only prevents these animals from developing high blood pressure but also prevents a lot of other types of pathophysiological changes in the heart, the kidney and the arteries."

What's more, after studying two subsequent generations of rats - the original animals' "children" and "grandchildren" - researchers discovered the beneficial changes were passed on. Those offspring should have had high blood pressure but didn't, said UF vascular biologist

Craig H. Gelband. Raizada and Gelband, who are affiliated with UF's College of Medicine and the campuswide Genetics Institute, collaborated with Michael J. Katovich, in the university's College of Pharmacy on the study. The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the

American Heart Association's Florida affiliate. Findings from related research also were presented at this week's annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Atlanta.

While it may be years before the approach is teste

Contact: Melanie Fridl Ross
University of Florida

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