, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 167-176
Date: 18 Oct 2006

Gene therapy to create biological pacemakers

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Old age and a variety of cardiovascular disorders may disrupt normal sinus node function. Currently, this is successfully treated with electronic pacemakers, which, however, leave room for improvement. During the past decade, different strategies to initiate pacemaker function by gene therapy were developed. In the search for a biological pacemaker, various approaches were explored, including β2-adrenergic receptor overexpression, down regulation of the inward rectifier current, and overexpression of the pacemaker current. The most recent advances include overexpression of bioengineered ion channels and genetically modified stem cells. This review considers the strengths and the weaknesses of the different approaches and discusses some of the different viral vectors currently used.