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New funding for research may lead to better heart failure treatments – University of Reading

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New funding for research may lead to better heart failure treatments

Release Date 07 August 2013

Dr Steven Fuller, Dr Angela Clerk, Dr Alejandro Giraldo and Phd student Sally Osborne

University of Reading researchers have been awarded funding by national charity Heart Research UK to discover new ways of treating heart failure.

Studies show that nearly 80,000 people a year die from heart disease in the UK with more than 750,000 people in the country living with heart failure.  

During a heart attack heart muscle cells can die if deprived of oxygen. As they are unable to regenerate, some of the heart's function is lost and heart failure develops.  So finding new ways to help cells survive or to replace the dead cells, perhaps by helping surviving cells to multiply or by giving extra cells such as stem cells, would be a great step forward in the treatment of heart disease.

The £114,500 funding from Heart Research UK will allow the Cardiac Signalling Team, based at the University's Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, to find out why and how heart muscle cells do not divide and instead choose to die.  

Protein kinases are a group of enzymes that regulate every aspect of cell function including growth, division, survival and death.  As enzymes, the kinases make ideal ‘targets' for developing new drugs that prevent them from working or change what they do.  This work could lead to new treatments for heart failure and allow the heart tissue to regenerate.

The Reading team, led by Professor Angela Clerk, will study in detail all the protein enzymes found in heart muscle cells over the next two years.

Professor Angela Clerk, from the University's School of Biological Sciences, said:  "I am absolutely delighted that Heart Research UK have chosen to support this groundbreaking research. Our team have been one of many globally that have worked on individual key enzymes in the heart over 20 years, but this research will enable us to look at all 300 plus kinases for the first time ever.  This is good news for current sufferers as we all aim to bring new therapies to the clinic in the coming few years. "

Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK, said:  "Heart failure is a very debilitating condition, and due to the ageing population, the numbers affected are expected to soar.  This University of Reading project is exciting because it could provide new ways of treating heart failure and hopefully giving patients a better quality of life.

"Our aim at Heart Research UK is to fund research that benefits patients as soon as possible.  This latest grant brings to nearly £300,000 the amount we have funded on research projects in Reading in the past 10 years.  What people raise locally is spent locally."


Notes to Editors

The University of Reading is listed among the top 1% of universities in the world (THE World University Rankings 2011-12).

The University of Reading's School of Biological Sciences is a research intensive institution, which prides itself on the excellence and relevance of its degree courses. It consists of two sections - Biomedical Sciences and Environmental Biology. The latter deals primarily in ecology and evolutionary biology, and the applied links between these disciplines, wildlife conservation and the biological control of agricultural pests and diseases.

Heart Research UK is a visionary charity founded in 1967 by Leeds heart surgeon Mr David Watson MBE, who realised that patients were dying unnecessarily because of the lack of research into heart disease, especially surgical techniques.  

Having funded six of the first eight successful UK heart transplants, Heart Research UK funds ground- breaking medical research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease. 

It has been helping hearts by supporting clinical and surgical projects and young researchers on their first steps into research. In the last 10 years the charity has funded over £10.6m on research projects in hospitals and universities across the UK as well as £1.2m on community-based lifestyle projects that aim to prevent or reduce the risks of heart disease. 




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