“Gene therapy is a discipline that uses genes as treatment: it was born to tackle genetic disease but today we are starting more and more to apply it to other complex diseases, as we get better at identifying their genetic components, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer”, explained medical researcher Serena Zacchigna.
“The diseases that we are going to have the most success with, probably are those where the target organ is relatively small, like eye disease, or a heart after a myocardial infarction where the therapeutical target is the small zone we want to regenerate or vascularize”, she said.
Zacchigna also explained that “another big sector where gene therapy is having and will have great success is against all diseases where we can take cells from the patient, introduce the therapeutic gene in some of these cells, and then reintroduce the cells in the patient. Some typical examples include skin diseases or blood diseases, where we can now extract stem cells, treat and reinfuse in the patient”.
Anyway, “for some of this diseases gene therapy is already a first line treatment, and for others this will happen in the near future. For instance, i think we could reasonably expect to see a gene therapy for regeneration or rivascularisation of damaged harts in the next 5 to ten years”, ends Serena Zacchigna.