By Deanna Fene
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- 57-year old Tim Huft of Jacksonville has chest pains every day. "A real tightness in the chest and sometimes I get it up through the neck." He's had his share of heart problems. He had his first of three heart attacks at the age of 41; then two by-pass surgeries, and 29 heart caths. "A lot of it is heredity. My dad and all my brothers and sisters have it and it's just bad arteries."
There was nothing else doctors could do for him. But now a new clinical trial by the University of Florida at Shands Jacksonville is offering patients new hope. Shands is the only hospital in Florida taking part in the nationwide study of experimental gene therapy.
Shands Cardiologist Dr. Marco Costa is the Principal Investigator on the Shands study. He says they're hopeful this new treatment will restore blood flow to the heart. "It helps build new vessels so your native vessels are blocked so we need to build a new bridge to the heart."
The procedure involves injecting a special gene directly into the heart muscle in six places using a specialized catheter. Dr. Costa says, "In the area where the problem is, we inject these medications through a specialized needle into the heart."
Tim Huft underwent the procedure two weeks ago because he felt it was his last chance and he still has so much to live for. "Number one - my wife and my grandkids."
Since he's part of the clinical trial he won't know for a year whether he received a placebo or the gene therapy, but he says every day he wakes up breathing is a blessing.
People from all over the state are coming to Shands to enroll in the clinicl trial, and they are still looking for more patients.
First Coast News