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Healthcare news

Belfast scientists awarded £250,000 for heart failure research

Dr Chris Watson in the lab at Queen’s University, Belfast. Picture by BHF NI

A BELFAST scientist has been awarded £250,000 for research into heart failure.

Dr Chris Watson and his team at Queen's University hope the grant from the British Heart Foundation could lead to new ways to diagnose and treat patients.

More than 15,000 people in Northern Ireland are living with heart failure, which occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow to meet the body's needs.

While treatments are available to control symptoms, there is no cure for the condition.

Research by Dr Watson has previously identified a protein called tetranectin, which is associated with a stiffening of the heart muscle. Blood levels of tetranectin were found to be altered in heart failure patients.

The funding will allow the scientists to determine the protein's role in the development of heart disease.

Dr Watson said the research could "ultimately lead to improved survival rates for patients and a better quality of life".

"Heart failure affects thousands of people in Northern Ireland and is one of the leading causes of death and reduced quality of life worldwide.

"Having heart failure means that for some reason the heart is not pumping blood around the body as well as it should.

"The most common reason is that your heart muscle has been damaged, for example after a heart attack or long term high blood pressure.

"Researching this protein and its role in the development of heart failure in patients could lead to the design of new drugs to treat the disease, and the development of new blood tests to better diagnose heart failure.

"This funding from the BHF will make this work possible and offer hope to all those living with heart failure both here in Northern Ireland and across the world."

Jayne Murray from BHF said: "Every year, thousands more families have to watch the people they love struggle with this devastating condition.

"This cutting edge research has huge potential to provide us with a new therapy and change the lives of thousands of people."

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