GCU researches new heart disease treatment

27 April 2016

GCU researches new heart disease treatment

Professor Ann Graham with lecturer Yvonne Dempsie

Researchers are to study whether the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries can be prevented, or even reversed, reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and strokes.

The team at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has been given a grant of £76,500 from national charity Heart Research UK to look into the mechanisms involved in atherosclerosis and whether the activity of genes that control atherosclerosis can be altered to prevent or reverse this disease of the arteries.

Atherosclerosis involves the accumulation of fatty deposits in the walls of major arteries and is the underlying cause of both coronary heart disease and stroke. 

Research has shown that small molecules, called microRNAs, regulate the activity of genes involved in different processes within the human body. This project, led by GCU’s Professor Annette Graham, explores the exciting idea that the build-up of fatty deposits in the artery wall can be prevented or reversed by manipulating certain microRNAs. 

The research will investigate the ability of two microRNAs to regulate fat build-up, and whether inhibitors or mimics of these molecules can alter its accumulation in the arteries.  This may pave the way for new treatments to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Professor Graham said: “We’re excited about the possibilities of this research finding a treatment that could help reverse atherosclerosis. The dangers of the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries are well-known and if we can inhibit and reduce its development it will have a significant effect on patients.”

Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK, said:  “There have been substantial decreases in deaths from cardiovascular disease over the last two decades, yet, coronary heart disease and stroke are still major causes of illness and death in the UK.  Also, obesity is rising.  This research could help reduce even more healthcare problems in the future.” 

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