Cedars-Sinai researchers are developing gene- and cell-based therapeutics to offer alternatives or adjuncts to conventional treatments. Using an engineered virus carrying T-box (TBx18), researchers are reprogramming heart muscle cells (cardiomyoctes) into induced sinoatrial node (iSAN) cells in pigs.
Cedars-Sinai research shows that these new cells generate electrical impulses spontaneously and are indistinguishable from SAN (native pacemaker) cells. Researchers believe this could be a viable therapeutic avenue for pacemaker-dependent patients afflicted with device-related complications.
Also, Cedars-Sinai is developing a clinically applicable, gene-based biological as a bridge-to-device solution for patients with bacterial infections who need temporary pacing during antibiotic treatment. In a porcine, preclinical model of complete heart block, investigators are able to successfully deliver an adenoviral vector genetic cocktail that provides physiologically relevant pacing over a 14-day period. The approach offers external pacing assistance to allow effective clearance of infection prior to reimplantation of a definitive electronic pacemaker or other situations that require temporary, off-the-shelf pacing.