SCMH Dr Tony Workman awarded BHF Project Grant


Dr Tony Workman (SCMH) has been awarded a 3 year British Heart Foundation project grant (£262,000) to help in the search for better drugs to prevent atrial fibrillation, a common and debilitating cardiac arrhythmia.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a disorder of the rhythmical beating of the heart’s upper chambers, the atria. It affects about 5% of people over 65, and can shorten their life. Existing drug treatments are only moderately effective or safe, especially in patients with a weakened heart -heart failure. Therefore, improved drug mechanisms need to be discovered. We will test whether a potential new drug mechanism can prevent electrical oscillations that may cause and sustain AF, known as “early-afterdepolarisations” (EADs). First, we will measure EADs in isolated atrial muscle cells donated by patients having heart surgery. Then, a powerful mixed biological/computer technique called “dynamic-clamping” will be used to study drug actions that can stop these EADs, by modifying an electric current in these cells carried by calcium. This modification is called calcium “window current-narrowing”.

This research will improve the understanding of how a novel drug mechanism (calcium window current-narrowing) could prevent electrical oscillations that may provoke atrial fibrillation. Ultimately, this will help in the search for better drugs to prevent this debilitating disease.

First published: 4 December 2020