Roger Hajjar, MD, on Gene Therapy as a Novel Precision Medicine Modality in Cardiology


The director of the Mass General Brigham Gene and Cell Therapy Institute shared his main message for cardiologists at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023.

This is the second part of an interview with Roger Hajjar, MD. For the first part, click here.

“For many cardiologists, gene therapy is a novel therapeutic modality. I think that our session and our presentations were really geared to showcase what we feel that the next generation of therapeutics in the cardiovascular field will be. We wanted to deliver a balanced view of what are the positives about cardiac gene therapy and what may be the pitfalls.”

Like other medical fields such as oncology, the field of cardiology has been shifting more and more towards the use of precision medicines over the years. These targeted approaches attempt to get at the root cause of heart conditions in order to make disease-modifying changes rather than simply ameliorating symptoms. Although progress in this area has already been made with small molecule drugs and medical devices, gene therapy constitutes a new precision medicine modality on the horizon for cardiology. At the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2023, held November 10-13 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roger Hajjar, MD, the director of the Mass General Brigham Gene and Cell Therapy Institute, gave a talk entitled “The Quest to Overcome the Challenges in Cardiac Gene Therapy” in order to bring awareness of the potential impact of this emerging modality to cardiologists.

After the talk, CGTLive™ sat down with Hajjar on the conference floor to learn more about his main message for cardiologists when it comes to gene therapy. Hajjar noted that although gene therapy has initially been seen by the healthcare community as a way for treating relatively simple, single-gene rare diseases, it also has the potential to treat more complex conditions, like some of those seen in cardiology, that also have a genetic basis. He also discussed the importance of vector types in gene therapy. Although many early efforts, including those in cardiology, have utilized adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector-based approaches of delivering gene therapies, Hajjar emphasized that new generations of vectors beyond AAV may have the potential for improved safety, specificity, and tropism, and the ability to be redosed.

1. Hajjar R. The Quest to Overcome the Challenges in Cardiac Gene Therapy. Presented at: AHA Scientific Sessions 2023; November 10-13; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. HF.EC.158
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