[Press and Public Relations] Boost for Heart Research

February 2002

No 32

Valentine’s Day may bring some people heart-warming experiences and cause heartache for others but a scientist working in the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Leicester is looking at hearts in an altogether more serious context.

Dr John Mitcheson is the first University of Leicester researcher to receive a career establishment grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC), for his study of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. The grant of £379,716 is one of a small number awarded competitively by the MRC to scientists engaged in internationally leading research at the early stages of their career.  

Dr Mitcheson’s award will enable him to carry out a five-year investigation of a protein called HERG. Disruption of HERG function occurs in patients with a genetic disease called long QT syndrome, but more commonly occurs because of a side effect of some commonly prescribed drugs. In both cases, it can result in cardiac arrhythmias, which occur when the heart does not contract in a precisely synchronised manner so that blood is not pumped efficiently to the brain and other organs of the body. The consequent loss of rhythm is painful and can cause sudden death. Dr Mitcheson will investigate how HERG functions, with the aim of developing new safer drugs and novel techniques to treat arrhythmias.

Dr Mitcheson said: “Research of this kind is important for improving our understanding of cardiac disease and finding new treatments”

Note to editors:  Further information is available from Dr John Mitcheson, University of Leicester Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, telephone 0116 252 2930, facsimile 0116 252 5045, email jm109@le.ac.uk

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 12 February 2002 15:30
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