QUB Awarded £100k For Heart Research

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have been awarded grant funding of £100,000 to investigate abnormal heart rhythms in the hope of guiding the development of new treatments.

The British Heart Foundation NI committed the money to Dr David Simpson and his PhD student Oisín Cappa at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine for their research into patients living with atrial fibrillation (AF).

AF is a common abnormal heart rhythm that causes an irregular heartbeat or pulse in over 39,000 people in Northern Ireland. The conditions is one of the major causes of stroke.

Using new techniques, the scientists will study thousands of individual cells from the hearts of people with and without AF. This will reveal in greater detail than ever before how heart cells work and how they are altered in patients with AF. Their hope is that this knowledge will guide development of ways to treat or even prevent the condition in the future.
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Dr David Simpson said: "We're delighted to receive the grant from British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland for this important piece of research. We will be using new technology that will allow us to look at individual cells in the human heart and measure precisely how these cells change.

"AF often involves the formation of extra connective tissue, a process known as fibrosis. The aim of this project is to inform the development of interventions to slow or prevent AF by learning more about the cells that cause fibrosis. The donation of biopsies from patients with and without AF will enable us to carry out the work.

"If we can discover what is happening to the heart cells in people with AF at the next stage we can design new drugs and treatments for the condition."

Head of BHF NI Fearghal McKinney said: "Around 39,000 people in Northern Ireland have been diagnosed with AF and it is likely that there are thousands more living with the condition but are undiagnosed.

"AF can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the heart. If the clot travels out of the heart and into the blood vessels of the brain, it can cause a stroke. AF increases the risk of a stroke by up to five times so it is vital we fund more research into the condition and help save local lives."


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