Funding boost for heart research work by experts in Leeds

Prof Derek Steele.
Prof Derek Steele.

Scientists in Leeds have won funding support as they seek a research breakthrough that could reduce the risk of people suffering strokes and heart failure.

Prof Derek Steele and his team at the University of Leeds’s School of Biomedical Sciences have been handed a £132,000 grant from Leeds-based charity Heart Research UK to study biological gases and their effect on atrial fibrillation.

The condition is a dangerous form of cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormality that can prevent the heart from pumping effectively.

Atrial fibrillation can be caused by disruption of ion channels within heart cells that are normally regulated by carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide – two of the gases that are produced naturally in the body.

The team in Leeds will use the Heart Research UK grant to see if artificially increasing the level of those gases in the bloodstream lends vital extra protection to the ion channels.

Prof Steele said: “Current treatments for atrial fibrillation are inadequate for many people who suffer from this dangerous type of cardiac arrhythmia.”

He added: “We hope to learn whether drugs which increase the formation of [carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide] in the bloodstream can protect the ion channels from disruption which may lead to treatments to help those who suffer from atrial fibrillation.”

Heart Research UK chief executive Barbara Harpham said the charity’ grants were designed to “bridge the gap between laboratory-based scientific research and patient care”.

She added: “This innovative research project in our own home town of Leeds has the potential to help not only those who suffer from atrial fibrillation in Yorkshire but across the UK to live healthier, happier and longer lives.”