A study at King’s College London to investigate the role of metals in heart function has been awarded a research grant of almost £150,000 by national charity Heart Research UK.
Led by Professor Giovanni Mann, the study aims to provide the first ‘metal fingerprints’ in human coronary arteries by measuring the levels and distribution of metals within coronary artery cells under different oxygen conditions.
Professor Mann said: “Metals, such as zinc, calcium, iron, copper and manganese are essential for the health of tissues and cells, and changes in levels of these metals have been associated with coronary heart disease.
“Levels in the body are normally very low. New techniques for measuring these low levels are key to understanding the effects that they may cause.
“This grant from Heart Research UK allows us to explore this promising are of research, and will hopefully improve our understanding of the role of metals in health and heart disease.”
Using an oxygen-controlled workstation, Professor Mann and his team will carry out experiments with cells grown in the laboratory under different oxygen levels to mimic healthy hearts, coronary heart disease and hearts following restoration of blood flow after a heart attack (reperfusion).
They will measure the levels and distribution of metals, focusing on zinc, and map them to different regions in coronary artery cells. If successful, the findings could eventually aid the diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease.
Barbara Harpham, chief executive at Heart Research UK said: “Medical science is progressing at remarkable speed. However, there is still much to learn.
“Investment in research is the only way we can tackle the challenges of keeping people fit and healthy to old age and protect younger hearts from damage caused by illness or congenital disease.
“The dedication we see from UK researchers is both encouraging and impressive and we at Heart Research UK are proud to support it and be part of it.”
The £149,557 grant was awarded to King’s College London as part of Heart Research UK’s annual awards for research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.
In total, seven grants have been awarded by Heart Research UK in the latest grant round – an investment of almost £1m for projects that aim to bridge the gap between laboratory-based scientific research and patient care, to benefit patients as soon as possible. To date, Heart Research UK have invested more than £25 million in medical research via its grants programme.