Manchester scientists turning unwanted goods into life-saving research

Heart researchers in Manchester have been awarded a prestigious grant of more than £180,000 by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The BHF is announcing the awards to coincide with the Great British Bag-athon, BHF shops biggest stock donation appeal which aims to raise 1 million bags of unwanted things in September, raising vital funds in the fight against heart disease. Last year’s Great British Bag-athon raised over £4 million helping the BHF to support this new research at the University of Manchester.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said: “Treatments for heart disease have come on leaps and bounds over the past 50 years. Through funding groundbreaking research, the BHF has played a major part in that. But there is still much more to be done and this pioneering research project is helping to advance our fight against heart disease.

“Thanks to generous donations to our Manchester shops, the people of Manchester have helped us fund this cutting-edge research. They can help us to fund more research at the University of Manchester by having a clear out and donating even more this year. Every bag you fill is a bag full of life saving research.”

This September is the Great British Bag-athon. BHF shops are aiming to raise 1 million bags of unwanted things, raising vital funds in the fight against heart disease. Visit bhf.org.uk/bagathon for more information.

The grant announced today will help to provide state-of-the-art equipment for heart researchers in Manchester that may reveal the changes that occur in small blood vessels when people are obese.

The BHF has awarded a grant to BHF Professor David Eisner and colleagues Dr Adam Greenstein and Professor Mark Boyett in The University of Manchester's Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences who are looking at conditions like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. These conditions affect the health of small arteries in the body – if they become damaged or diseased, a condition called microvascular disease can develop. The Manchester scientists are working out how this happens, and their work may reveal new ways to keep blood vessels healthy.

The BHF has awarded £187,000 towards this state-of-the-art equipment, which is half of the total cost. The new equipment - a high-speed spinning disc confocal microscope and a dynamic retinal vessel analyser - will enable Professor Eisner and his colleagues to study samples from healthy and obese patients in greater detail than ever before. Their work will give unique insight into how human obesity causes blood vessel damage, which cannot be gleaned from animal models.

Confocal microscopy is a specialised form of microscopy that allows scientists to visualise cells and tissues in intricate detail, in three dimensions. Retinal vessel analysers enable researchers to visualise and measure the small blood vessels at the back of the eye, revealing clues about blood vessel health. Contraction or relaxation of a small artery depends on calcium release within individual cells. Alongside other equipment, both machines will allow the Manchester researchers to study small artery function in incredible detail, in a more inclusive way than ever before - even measuring calcium within individual cells and heart tissue.

This state-of-the-art equipment combination and the samples they will study means they they will have the capacity to study human arteries using a ‘bedside to bench’ approach, which will attract talented researchers to work at the university. Ultimately, their work will reveal more about microvascular disease in obesity and new ways to treat it in the future.


Notes for editors

For more information please call the BHF press office on 020 7554 0164 or 07764 290381 (out of hours) or email newsdesk@bhf.org.uk.

British Heart Foundation

Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. For over 50 years we’ve pioneered research that’s transformed the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. Our work has been central to the discoveries of vital treatments that are changing the fight against heart disease. But so many people still need our help. From babies born with life-threatening heart problems to the many Mums, Dads and Grandparents who survive a heart attack and endure the daily battles of heart failure. Every pound raised, minute of your time and donation to our shops will help make a difference to people’s lives.