British Heart Foundation backs Cardiovascular Research at Leicester

Posted by pt91 at Aug 04, 2011 03:20 PM |
Major new funding in Cell Physiology and Pharmacology.
British Heart Foundation backs Cardiovascular Research at Leicester

Bone marrow-derived megakaryocyte. These cells were investigated by Martyn Mahaut-Smith in prior research.

Our Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology has an outstanding group of cardiovascular researchers who have recently won major four new grants worth £780,000 from the British Heart Foundation.

The University of Leicester is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for research into cardiovascular diseases. Research in Cell Physiology and Pharmacology complements work conducted at the Glenfield hospital (where the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and the National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Unit in Cardiovascular Disease is based). Projects to receive grants at the University are:

Blood platelets and thrombosis

Professor Martyn Mahaut-Smith is studying how blood platelets cause thrombosis. Thrombosis is a leading worldwide cause of death and disability, since it reduces the blood flow to vital organs leading to strokes and heart attacks. Recent work (in collaboration with Professors Ian Forsythe and Alison Goodall) has identified an important ion channel in platelets and the new BHF funding will allow the role of this channel, as a potential novel target to treat thrombosis, to be explored further.


Dr Jonathan Willets and Professor John Challiss are investigating how blood vessels change when blood pressure increases. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a chronic condition that can predispose a sufferer to heart attacks and strokes. They have found that particular classes of regulatory protein that can affect the ability of cells within blood vessels to sense hormonal and neurotransmitter signals change as blood pressure rises and the new BHF funding will allow them to investigate whether normalising the levels of these proteins can counteract the harmful effects of hypertension.

P2X receptors

Professor Richard Evans studies P2X receptors, which are targets for drugs to reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke. The new BHF funding will allow him to look at how the receptor changes shape when drugs bind and should allow him to answer fundamental questions about how the P2X receptor works and aid future drug development.

hERG inhibitors

Drs John Mitcheson and Noel Davies are investigating why many novel compounds going through the drug development process inhibit a certain type of potassium channel (hERG) in the heart. This unwanted side-effect can increase the risk of drugs causing changes in cardiac rhythm and can lead to sudden death of patients. Knowledge gained with the new BHF funding should help improve understanding of how drugs interact with hERG and help to avoid this problem in future drug development programmes.

We are delighted with this cluster of grants that will enable us to explore some of the fundamental mechanisms underlying important diseases such as stroke, arrhythmia, hypertension and thrombosis. This is a fantastic achievement for the scientists concerned who have worked enormously hard to achieve this funding success.
Professor Blair Grubb, Head of Department