BHF funds vital heart disease study

Researchers will work to solve the problems of transplant rejection

2nd November 2015

Researchers in the Newcastle University Medical School have received funding from the British Heart Foundation to undertake life-changing research.

The funding comes with the hope that the Medical School can make a breakthrough into making heart transplants safer and longer-lasting.

The team at Newcastle hope to narrow the margin of rejected transplants by investigating the role that certain proteins play in the process. By understanding the function of these proteins it is hoped it would be possible to determine a patient’s chance of transplant rejection. This would allow for intervention and individualised therapy - increasing the chances of the survival of the transplanted heart.

The University has previously benefited from BHF’s initiative to sponsor research. Over the past ten years, the BHF has invested £5m into the University’s cardiovascular reasearch.

The British Heart Foundation works towards eradicating heart disease primarily through investment in multiple areas of research: from development of drugs through to the best methods of diagnosis. The money received from the BHF comes out of around £100 million that they invest in research each year - making it the nation’s largest independent funder of cardiovascular research.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, has emphasised just how important Newcastle remains in the battle against heart disease: “This research being undertaken at Newcastle University could increase our ability to prevent transplanted hearts from being rejected. Ultimately, allowing people who have undergone this procedure to live longer, healthier lives with a healthy donor heart.”

The leading researcher, Professor Simi Ali, said: “By understanding more about the process by which organs are rejected we hope to develop blood tests to allow us to catch a transplanted heart in the early stages of rejection. The ultimate aim of our research is to reduce the number of people suffering from organ rejection, and to prevent people from re-joining a growing transplant waiting list.”    

“The BHF exists to end the suffering caused by all forms of heart and circulatory disease and we’re committed to funding the very best researchers doing the highest quality research in order to achieve that goal,” Professor Jeremy Pearson said. “For people with severe heart failure, heart transplantation is often the only option.”

According to their latest research strategy, the BHF has now committed to spending over half a billion pounds on research in the next five years.

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