Modified herpes virus keeps arteries 'free-flowing' following procedures

July 10, 2007

A genetically engineered herpes simplex virus, primarily known for causing cold sores, may help keep arteries “free-flowing” in the weeks following angioplasty or stent placement for patients, according to research published early in the online edition of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

Christopher Skelly, MD, assistant professor of vascular surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and the study’s lead author says, “One of the drawbacks of balloon angioplasty to open blocked arteries and the use of stents to keep them open is that arteries sometimes experience aggravation from the procedure. The balloon angioplasty, in addition to opening the artery can lead to smooth muscle cell proliferation, similar to formation of scar tissue, known as neointimal hyperplasia. This scar tissue can restrict blood flow not long after the procedures, leading to a recurrence of symptoms. A significant number of these cases end up requiring further intervention to address this complication.”

Researchers at the University of Chicago noted that in recent years, genetically engineered herpes simplex virus studied for its efficacy against malignant tumors of the central nervous system and the liver was blocking certain types of cell death and proliferation of surviving cells. They wanted to test this effect in arteries following angioplasty therapy.

The researchers studied a rabbit model that replicates the restenosis or renarrowing after angioplasty. Rabbits that underwent angioplasty alone experienced significant narrowing of the artery. Rabbits exposed to the herpes simplex virus during angioplasty had minimal changes in the arteries. The smooth muscle cell proliferation which causes the restenosis was very low in the group treated with herpes and remained high in the untreated group.

One undesirable, yet expected outcome of angioplasty and stent placement is the disruption of the artery’s endothelial layer, which forms the inner lining of the artery. Loss of this inner layer predisposes the artery to blood clot formation which has been a recent concern with drug eluting stents. The researchers found that the endothelial layer was partially restored at 14 days and completely restored at 28 days post-balloon angioplasty in the group treated with the herpes virus.

“The ability to target the smooth muscle cells that cause the narrowing, and regenerate the endothelial cell lining is an important finding,” noted Skelly.

“This study is an important step in the application of genetically engineered herpes simplex viruses for treatment of vascular disease," Skelly added. "It suggests that genetically engineered viruses may have a significant impact on the outcomes of angioplasty performed in humans. Human trials would be the next step to test this theory.”

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Study: Viral reactivation a likely link between stress and heart disease

Related Stories

Study: Viral reactivation a likely link between stress and heart disease

January 22, 2013
A new study could provide the link that scientists have been looking for to confirm that reactivation of a latent herpes virus is a cause of some heart problems.

Recommended for you

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.