Using gene therapy to promote new blood vessel growth and improve blood flow is a promising treatment for clogged arteries leading to the heart or legs, but the technique, called angiogenesis, should be pursued cautiously, researchers write in the Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The researchers believe that ultimately the therapy will be effective and safe, but they warn all researchers to be aware of the different biological effects of each angiogenic agent proposed for clinical study and expect that complications will occur. There are inherent, potentially serious side effects that have not been discussed in-depth in the medical community, they warn.
Potential complications include triggering growth in abnormal tissue or of abnormal blood vessels, increasing growth of artery-clogging plaque and stimulating the inflammatory response. The researchers concede that the complications may not occur and say they are hopeful the procedure will ultimately live up to its promise. But they want to increase awareness that such complications could occur.