Vascular Science At University of Bristol Boosted By Donation

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Published: 27 Aug 2015      

Vascular scientists at the University of Bristol will now be able to carry out new tests and therapies that should help people suffering from coronary issues that will require bypass surgery thanks to a £2 million donation from the British Heart Foundation. The money was handed over as part of the appointment of Costanza Emanueli as BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Science.

Statistics have demonstrated that the coronary issues that will be the subject of the tests are responsible for more than 73,000 deaths in the UK every single year and it is estimated that more than 2 million people are living with coronary heart disease at the point of writing.

However, Professor Emanueli is leading research at the university that is aimed towards growing new small blood vessels for people suffering from heart disease. This technology would not replace the traditional surgeries that those suffering from coronary issues usually need, but can instead be used to complement it and provide additional aid to people suffering from diabetes and other afflictions that cause damage to the smaller blood vessels. This, in turn, should improve the potential outcome of any surgical procedures carried out.

The research also aims to develop a new range of tests that should provide extra aid to surgeons in terms of working out any potential complications that may arise due to the surgery, which allows doctors to arrange treatment plans and take preventative action to limit the effects.

The research has already aided a number of patients who have needed heart surgery including Michael O'Neill, aged 66, who commented: "It was worrying to know that I needed surgery but, thanks to advances in medical research and the innovate procedure that the Bristol surgical team used, my operation went well and I made a full recovery. However, I do know that not everyone is so fortunate. It’s great to know that the BHF are funding research which could help to make operations like mine even safer and more effective."

The funding comes as part of the BHF Professorship that the organisation offers to the leading vascular scientists in the country, and is usually granted in recognition of particularly outstanding work in the field.

Professor Emanueli commented on the funding, adding: "At the moment our research is happening in the laboratory and at the level of observational prospective clinical studies developed in the context of cardiovascular surgeries, but, thanks to this new funding from the BHF, we will be able to take our findings closer and closer to the point where they could benefit heart patients.

"Bypass surgery is a very safe and effective procedure but, from working with my surgical colleagues in Bristol, I am all too aware of its limitations. Through my research, I hope to make the operation even safer and have an even more positive impact on the person undergoing the surgery. Moreover, novel approaches based on microRNAs and extracellular vesicles can go hand in hand with surgery to improve the therapeutic options for patients suffering from ischaemic heart disease."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, also commented on the organisation's funding initiatives, stating: "We’re dedicated to funding high quality research which will ultimately make the difference for people with heart and circulatory disease. We can only do this thanks to the generosity of the public whose support has already helped saved countless lives.

"Professor Emanueli is determined to take her breakthroughs into the clinical practice where she can hope to help patients. This new funding will help make that possible and we look forward to her life saving progress."

The money is already being put to good use by Professor Emanueli and her team, which should mean a better future for the 400 people in Bristol who suffer from coronary issues and the many more thousands throughout the UK going through the same thing.


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