This upcoming review series will highlight recent progress in treatments for heart failure, cardiac fibrosis, cardiometabolic disease, and more.
The rapid invention of genome-editing technologies over the past decade, which has already been transformative for biomedical research, has raised the tantalizing prospect of an entirely new therapeutic modality. Whereas the treatment of chronic cardiovascular diseases has heretofore entailed the use of chronic therapies that typically must be taken repeatedly and frequently for the remainder of the lifetime, genome editing will enable the development of “one-and-done” therapies with durable effects. This Review summarizes the variety of available genome-editing approaches, including nuclease editing, base editing, epigenome editing, and prime editing; illustrates how these various approaches could be implemented as novel therapies for cardiovascular diseases; and outlines a path from technology development to preclinical studies to clinical trials. Although this Review focuses on PCSK9 as an instructive example of the various genome-editing approaches under active investigation, the lessons learned will be broadly applicable to the treatment of a variety of diseases.
Despite the success of LDL-lowering drugs in reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD), there remains a large burden of residual disease due in part to persistent dyslipidemia characterized by elevated levels of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRLs) and reduced levels of HDL. This form of dyslipidemia is increasing globally as a result of the rising prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Accumulating evidence suggests that impaired hepatic clearance of cholesterol-rich TRL remnants leads to their accumulation in arteries, promoting foam cell formation and inflammation. Low levels of HDL may associate with reduced cholesterol efflux from foam cells, aggravating atherosclerosis. While fibrates and fish oils reduce TRL, they have not been uniformly successful in reducing CVD, and there is a large unmet need for new approaches to reduce remnants and CVD. Rare genetic variants that lower triglyceride levels via activation of lipolysis and associate with reduced CVD suggest new approaches to treating dyslipidemia. Apolipoprotein C3 (APOC3) and angiopoietin-like 3 (ANGPTL3) have emerged as targets for inhibition by antibody, antisense, or RNAi approaches. Inhibition of either molecule lowers TRL but respectively raises or lowers HDL levels. Large clinical trials of such agents in patients with high CVD risk and elevated levels of TRL will be required to demonstrate efficacy of these approaches.
Alan R. Tall, David G. Thomas, Ainara G. Gonzalez-Cabodevilla, Ira J. Goldberg