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£1.8m grant provides boost for genetic research into heart disease

Molecular image of HCM1 gene

21 February 2013


Professor Stuart Cook, director of genetics at the NIHR Royal Brompton Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit and professor of molecular and clinical cardiology at Imperial College London, has succeeded in a bid to secure funding of £1.8m from the Health Innovation Challenge Fund.

The grant, awarded jointly by the Department of Health and the Wellcome Trust, will fund research into genetic causes of heart disease in order to inform and support improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of inherited cardiac conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). DCM is a leading cause of heart failure in the UK, affecting more than 350,000 people, with more than 27,000 new cases diagnosed each year 1.

Professor Cook, along with a team of researchers at the National Heart & Lung Institute and clinicians at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, uses state-of-the-art sequencing technologies to investigate the genetics of inherited heart disease, said: “We’ve sequenced around 200 genes that are important for heart diseases that run in families and have published our findings in several journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine. Since genetics is so transferable to the clinic, we hope we can now apply research from the lab to clinical diagnostics.

“This grant will allow us to employ a team of four people to take all of the data we have at this point and prepare it for use in a clinical diagnostics setting."

Professor Cook and his team are using the significant amount of data gleaned through gene sequencing to build databases of information, which will allow them to take forward more detailed studies of mutations that have been identified.

The team aims to harness the growing power of genomic technologies to bridge the gap between discovery in laboratories and positive impact on the everyday lives of people affected by inherited heart disease.

1. British Heart Foundation

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