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GENETICALLY ENHANCED CARDIOVASCULAR IMPLANT PROJECTS WOULD BE FUNDED

This article was originally published in The Gray Sheet

Executive Summary

GENETICALLY ENHANCED CARDIOVASCULAR IMPLANT PROJECTS WOULD BE FUNDED under a proposed request for applications (RFA) approved by a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute advisory council at a May 27-28 meeting. NHLBI hopes the funding initiative will lead to the development of implantable cardiovascular devices lined with genetically modified cells. Possible types of genetically modified cardiovascular implants include devices that would secrete substances locally to enhance the biocompatibility of the product. Most conventional cardiovascular devices, such as artificial hearts, ventricular assist devices, valves and stents, have a certain degree of biocompatibility problems. Cells capable of controlling or preventing thrombosis and intimal hyperplasia could help address that issue. In addition to local benefits, genetically modified implants could be used as "'organoids' (hybrid organs composed of a biomaterial lattice coated with secretory cells) which would function as a source for chronic systemic delivery of agents with desirable cardiovascular actions," NHLBI says. While the feasibility of developing an organoid for systemic delivery of modified cells already has been established, research is needed "to determine the function and control of such an organoid over prolonged time," according to the institute. The five-year, $4.1 mil. initiative would fund three to four new projects. First-year funding is set at $750,000 in FY 1994. Specific areas of research suggested by NHLBI include: the study of genetic modification of endothelial or other cells for production of recombinant proteins with desired therapeutic effects; investigation of the long-term function of genetically modified cells seeded on the implants; and study of the parameters which affect the functions of organoids for cardiovascular applications.

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