In this health video learn how a new gene therapy could mean the difference between life and death for people with pulmonary hypertension.
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Jennifer Matthews: Junne Page has lived a healthy life but seven years ago, things changed. Junne Page: I had been short of breath. I thought it was due to a medication I was taking. Jennifer Matthews: It wasn't. Junne has pulmonary hypertension, an often a fatal disease. Michael Kutryk: Most commonly, the disease is rapidly progressive such that the survival is only about 50% at three years if left untreated. Jennifer Matthews: Pulmonary hypertension constricts the lung's delicate blood vessels, making it tough for the heart to get oxygen-rich blood to the lungs. Michael Kutryk: And there are no therapies or treatments now that are designed to replace those blood vessels. Jennifer Matthews: Given the dim prognosis, Doctor Kutryk is excited about a new therapy that could save lives. Michael Kutryk: We're hoping that we can slow down the progression, halt the progression and in fact, we feel confident that we may be able to reverse the disease in most instances. Jennifer Matthews: In the first ever trial of a gene-cell therapy for any cardiovascular disease, doctors take specialized cells from the patient's blood and grow them in the lab. The cells are altered with a gene that promotes healing in the vessels and injected back into the patient. Michael Kutryk: We're certainly seeing positive results at the moment, but we expect to see much better results as we increase the doses. Jennifer Matthews: Junne was the first patient to get the therapy. Her disease is stable and her spirits are up. Junne Page: It's giving me hope that things are going ahead and they are doing things that are working and they're working on it and there is promise. Jennifer Matthews: And with her dog Pepper by her side, Junne says, she is happy to be holding her own. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting. Jennifer Matthews: Junne Page has lived a healthy life but seven years ago, things changed. Junne Page: I had been short of breath. I thought it was due to a medication I was taking. Jennifer Matthews: It wasn't. Junne has pulmonary hypertension, an often a fatal disease. Michael Kutryk: Most commonly, the disease is rapidly progressive such that the survival is only about 50% at three years if left untreated. Jennifer Matthews: Pulmonary hypertension constricts the lung's delicate blood vessels, making it tough for the heart to get oxygen-rich blood to the lungs. Michael Kutryk: And there are no therapies or treatments now that are designed to replace those blood vessels. Jennifer Matthews: Given the dim prognosis, Doctor Kutryk is excited about a new therapy that could save lives. Michael Kutryk: We're hoping that we can slow down the progression, halt the progression and in fact, we feel confident that we may be able to reverse the disease in most instances. Jennifer Matthews: In the first ever trial of a gene-cell therapy for any cardiovascular disease, doctors take specialized cells from the patient's blood and grow them in the lab. The cells are altered with a gene that promotes healing in the vessels and injected back into the patient. Michael Kutryk: We're certainly seeing positive results at the moment, but we expect to see much better results as we increase the doses. Jennifer Matthews: Junne was the first patient to get the therapy. Her disease is stable and her spirits are up. Junne Page: It's giving me hope that things are going ahead and they are doing things that are working and they're working on it and there is promise. Jennifer Matthews: And with her dog Pepper by her side, Junne says, she is happy to be holding her own. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.

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