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£1.2m grant awarded for research to prevent cause of sudden death in young adults

QMUL awarded £1.2 million funding by British Heart Foundation for vital research into myocarditis.

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New work to diagnose and cure a disease which can cause sudden cardiac death in young adults is being carried out at Queen Mary University of London, thanks to research funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF). The charity has awarded grants of £1.2 million as part of the appointment of Professor Federica Marelli-Berg, from QMUL’s William Harvey Research Institute, as BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Science.

The disease, myocarditis, occurs when the heart muscle becomes inflamed and is often caused as a result of infection by common viruses. Around 20 per cent of people with myocarditis go on to develop heart failure, which in severe cases can result in the person needing a heart transplant (1).

Professor Marelli-Berg is now leading research into the disease, which has, so far, proven difficult to diagnose and treat. This is because, although the dangerous inflammation of the heart muscle seen in the disease is known to be caused by a certain type of white blood cells, called T-cells, researchers do not yet know exactly how this process occurs.

Currently, in order to diagnose someone with myocarditis an invasive procedure has to be carried out to remove a small section of heart muscle for examination. Professor Marelli-Berg’s research could mean this deadly condition can be diagnosed quicker using a non-invasive technique.

Professor Federica Marelli-Berg said: “Becoming a BHF professor is a lifelong ambition for many scientists and I consider myself extremely privileged to have been given such a prestigious award.

“I have always conducted my research with passion and this award will allow me to see my work translated into real benefits for patients. I am very grateful to the BHF for investing in me and my research and I am determined to make a difference for those patients suffering from myocarditis and heart transplant rejection.”

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the BHF, said: “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 Marelli-Berg is determined to find a way to stop myocarditis in its tracks. This new funding will help make that possible and we look forward to her life saving progress.”

Find out more about the BHF here:

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