The UK charity Heart Research UK has awarded a grant of £125,000 to the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College, London, UK, for research of new drug treatments to target cells that cause cardiac arrhythmias.
The two year Imperial College project will study how myofibroblasts cells believed to cause arrhythmias interact with heart muscle cells and how they affect normal heart contractions.
It is expected that this project will help to show that myofibroblasts represent an important new target for anti-arrhythmic drugs. The findings will help explain how myofibroblasts affect heart rhythm, helping to pave the way for the development of new and better drugs to restore a normal heart rhythm. The work will also focus on whether the drug UCDA can protect the heart against abnormal heart rhythms.
“The heart as an organ is composed of fibroblasts and myocytes in equal measure. However for a long time the attention in heart science was focussed on myocytes. Now the time of fibroblasts has come,” says Julia Gorelik, lead investigator at Imperial College. “We aim to shed light on the function of fibroblasts and their pathological counterparts, myofibroblasts, in heart disease. We hope we can find drugs that specifically target myofibroblasts and help to prevent negative outcomes for people with arrhythmias and other adverse conditions of the heart.”
“Abnormal heart rhythm can have serious consequences for those who suffer with this condition, and we are hopeful that this important work by the team at Imperial College will help find new ways to treat this problem and improve the situation for patients,” says Barbara Harpham, national director of Heart Research UK.