Health

Heart failure research to find cure using zebrafish

  • 1 February 2011
  • From the section Health
zebrafish
Zebrafish have the ability to mend their own hearts

The British Heart Foundation is to begin a major new research programme to find a cure for heart failure, a condition affecting 750,000 UK people.

This disease of the heart muscle, often caused by a heart attack, is one of the UK's leading causes of disability.

The charity hopes to harness the miraculous healing abilities of zebrafish, a species that is able to mend its own heart muscle.

Ultimately, the research may make this possible for people to do so too.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: "Since the BHF's inception 50 years ago, we've made great strides in medical research to better diagnose and treat people with all kinds of heart problems.

"But the biggest issue that still eludes us is how to help people once their heart has been damaged by a heart attack.

"Scientifically, mending human hearts is an achievable goal and we really could make recovering from a heart attack as simple as getting over a broken leg."

But he said the research will require £50m in investment to make this a reality over the next 10 years. The charity hopes to raise the funds though donations.

The Mending Broken Hearts project will involve stem cell research and developmental biology to work out how to repair or replace damaged heart muscle.

Zebrafish are useful to scientists because they have a fully functioning simple heart and circulatory system. If part of their heart is removed, they can grow it back in a matter of weeks.

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