A pioneering new gene therapy treatment is being trialled at Harefield Hospital that could potentially allow damaged hearts to recover without the need for major surgery.

Hoping to offer a viable alternative to transplantation, the trial involves researchers introducing a gene into heart failure patients to boost the production of a key protein, which they believe will allow the heart muscle to recover. This offers hope for hundreds of thousands of heart failure patients who sit on transplant waiting lists for new hearts.

This project has made headlines globally, with those on transplant waiting lists hopeful for positive results. The first patient to receive an infusion was Lee Adams, a Harefield Hospital patient who is on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

Dr Nick Banner, the Harefield Hospital consultant cardiologist who carried out the first infusion of the new gene therapy, said: “The rationale for this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a new form of therapy, which might in the future be a viable alternative to transplantation.”

“This study will help us better understand whether the concept of repairing a heart with gene therapy might be possible, even in patients with advanced heart failure.”

The trial complements a larger on-going study, Cupid2, which is investigating the effectiveness of gene therapy in patients with less advanced heart failure led by Dr Alexander Lyon, consultant cardiologist at Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care.