Congenital heart block is the most commonly observed type of foetal bradycardia, occurring in one in 15.000 live births. A significant subset of foetuses develops towards congenital complete heart block (CCHB), i.e. complete failure of the electrical excitation wavefront to be conducted over the atrioventricular (AV) node. CCHB is the most severe and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia in utero. Current medicinal treatments cannot significantly alter the cause of CCHB and therapeutic attempts at human foetal cardiac pacing have been unsuccessful. For CCHB patients at high risk for life-threatening disease progression and death due to severe bradycardia before 34 weeks of gestation, this project develops a gene therapy medicinal product (GTMP) that is based on adenoviral vector-mediated ion channel overexpression, to transiently increase heart rates over the course of several months. When successful, such a GTMP would rescue these patients and allow for permanent pacemaker implantation in the first months after birth.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme