French, Brent A.
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Novel Therapies for Treating and Preventing Ischemic Heart Disease
Our interests focus on developing gene therapy for treating and preventing cardio-vascular disease. An interdisciplinary approach is used to integrate recent technical advances with gene therapy research. In particular, cutting-edge imaging techniques such as MRI are used to expedite research by providing an accurate measure of gene therapy's efficacy against cardiovascular disease.
Current research projects in our lab focus on using gene therapy against myocardial infarction and heart failure. Recent work shows that the biological messenger nitric oxide plays a multifunctional role in protecting the heart against ischemic damage. Thus one project seeks to determine whether gene therapy with nitric oxide synthase can protect the heart against myocardial infarction.
One of the most damaging properties of superoxide is its ability to react with (and thereby inactivate) nitric oxide. Not only does this reaction deplete endogenous levels of nitric oxide, but it also yields a reaction product (peroxynitrite) that is severely damaging to biomolecules. We recently developed an antioxidant gene therapy, based on superoxide dismutase, which confers cardioprotection against myocardial infarction and has the potential to protect high-risk patients against the ravages of heart attack.