27 June 2016

Hull York Medical School awarded major grant to advance research towards new heart disease treatments

Khalid NaseemHull York Medical School and the University of Hull have been awarded £869,721 by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to explore how fat in the blood can affect blood clotting to increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The award will allow researchers to significantly expand the scope of their work in this field.

The project will take place over a period of five years, with the aim to help doctors improve their understanding of the impact of blood clots, and develop new medicines to prevent heart disease.

The premature death rate from coronary heart disease is significantly higher in Hull than the rest of Yorkshire and above average compared with the rest of England[i].

There are more than 11,000 people in Hull living with coronary heart disease, and it is accountable for one in eight deaths each year in the city[ii].

When blood clots groups of cells called platelets cluster together to prevent bleeding after injury; however, if the clot forms inside blood vessels supplying blood to the heart or brain, this can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

People at risk of heart disease often have increased amounts of fat in their blood. Recently it has been found that fat can bind to platelets and make them more likely to clot, raising the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The researchers will study the processes that allow fat to activate platelets, to identify new ways to prevent this happening.

Principal investigator of the research, Professor of Cardiovascular Biology, Khalid Naseem, said: ‘Our research has been very well supported by the BHF for a number of years and the award of a programme grant allows us to significantly expand the scope of our work, focussing on understanding the link between fat, blood platelets and heart disease.’

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Although we have made great strides in improving the treatment of heart disease, it still accounts for one in eight deaths in Hull each year, And we don’t yet fully understand the biology behind the disease process – improved understanding will mean improved treatments that could prevent heart attacks and save lives.

‘Thanks to the generosity of people from Hull and the wider UK, we’ve been able to fund Professor Naseem’s research to better understand how heart disease develops. We look forward to seeing how the science progresses and hope it brings us closer to ending the sudden devastation caused by heart disease.’

This prestigious award follows more than £900k of investment from the BHF to the Hull York Medical School and the University of Hull since 2010 to pursue world-class cardiovascular and metabolic research

The University of Hull is making a significant investment in medical training and research with a £28-million new health campus, currently under construction.

The health campus will realise the University’s bold ambitions to be at the forefront of medical, nursing, midwifery and allied health training, as well as offering a world-leading research centre.

At the heart of the health campus will be the Allam Medical Building, due for completion in summer 2017, which will also include the £2.4 million Wolfson Centre for Palliative Care Research.

[i] BHF/Oxford analysis of ONS mortality statistics

[ii] Quality & Outcomes Framework prevalence data 2014/15