Thursday, 24 February 2011
My teenager will need another aortic valve replacement in few years time. Could stem cells work on repairing valves
Thanks for your question.
Many scientists hope that stem cell research will have benefits for heart valve problems.
However, at the current state of play it’s more likely that they’ll be used to grow more durable replacement valves in the lab, rather than using stem cells to repair our own damaged or abnormal valves.
So, surgical valve replacement is likely to be here for some time.
Hello, thanks for your question.
The woman in our advertising is an actress, but the story she’s depicting is very real. It’s based on a lady called Joanne Ward. You can read her real story on our website.
Joanne helped us develop the adverts and we’re incredibly grateful to her for giving her time and sharing her story to help us launch the Appeal.
Joanne is a Facebook fan of the BHF, so if she reads this she might even post to say hello!
Thanks for your question
Hi Bruce, thanks for your question.
There are centres in Scotland – including Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh - that are very active in heart failure research.
If you have heart failure yourself, your cardiologist is best placed to advise you about any trials that you might be eligible for now or in the future.
Hope that helps, best wishes and thanks for taking part in our live chat.
Darren asks us whether our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal research will help those with dilated cardiomyopathy
At this stage it’s not clear if regenerative medicine research funded by the Appeal will have direct benefits for people with dilated cardiomyopathy. But it’s really too early to know for sure.
However, we’re well aware of the importance of the condition. The Appeal is funding research over and above our current research spend, so please be assured that we will continue to fund a great deal of research into the genetic and molecular causes of dilated cardiomyopathy in the hope that new treatments will emerge.
Thanks again and best wishes for the future
All of the money we raise in the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal will be ringfenced for regenerative medicine research.
It’s a 10 year research programme. We’ll be awarding research grants to the best scientists across the UK and bringing in top-class researchers from abroad. We’ll also invest in equipment and infrastructure so that these researchers have the cutting-edge facilities they need to achieve the goal of Mending Broken Hearts. We’ll also be funding clinical trials.
Thanks you for your support and best wishes
Thanks for joining our live chat and for asking a question.
The main aim of the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is to fund research that would repair heart muscle that has been damaged by a heart attack. That damage can cause heart failure, which can be a debilitating condition and currently affects around three quarters of a million people in the UK.
So, we hope that it will mean an end to heart transplant surgery – which currently is the only option for people with severe heart failure.
We already spend around £70 million a year on research, much of which is aimed at preventing heart attacks and the need for heart surgery. The regenerative medicine research funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal will be in addition to this.
Since we began in 1961 the death rate from heart attacks has more than halved. But there’s still a long way to go.
Thanks for asking us your question.
It’s difficult for us to give you a full answer without the details.
But having a low pulse and irregular heart beat at your age doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your heart.
If you’re really worried you should talk to someone in your family, or ask your parents to speak to your doctor.
Thanks for your question, a very interesting one.
Yes, that may be a possibility. This technique is already been done with rat hearts and this line of investigation is being pursued in some labs around the world.
Other scientists are looking at ways of creating ‘patches’ of human heart that could be used to replace a portion of damaged heart using this approach.
Sorry to hear you’re feeling unwell.
If you are concerned about any changes to your health, you should talk your doctor. He or she will be best placed to know if you should be referred for tests on your heart.
If you need further information do call our helpline on 0300 330 3311
But, your first port of call should be your doctor.
Thanks again and best wishes
Thanks for your question, hope that your husband is feeling okay after his operation.
Research funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is not currently at the stage of running clinical trials. We hope that early trials will take place within the next five years.
These early trials are likely to be on a small number of patients, and those that are most severely affected by heart failure.
Your husband’s cardiologist would be the best person to point you towards any clinical trials being undertaken locally that your husband would be eligible to join.
Thanks and best wishes
The primary aim of the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is to learn how to repair heart muscle once it’s become damaged after a heart attack.
Angina occurs when there’s a poor blood supply to healthy heart. So, it’s the blood vessels that are the problem, not the heart muscle.
However, the research funded by the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal will involve learning about blood vessels, and how they grow. This could ultimately lead to new ways to treat angina too.
Thanks for your question.
How did you discover that the zebrafish could regenerate its heart? Thanks Jayne for your supportive comments. Good question about the zebrafish! But actually it’s not just fish that can do this – other vertebrates such as some frogs and axolotls can do the trick too. In fact axolotls can even regenerate entire limbs. What we need to find out is why humans can’t do it. Or – as one of our scientists puts it – “how we can make a human more like a fish”! The great thing about zebrafish is that when they’re young they’re see-through, so you can see their hearts and see how their hearts grow and develop.
Thanks for your question.
The BHF – and the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal - relies wholly on public support. But we have always worked closely with Government funded research organisations like the Medical Research Council (MRC) to ensure the best use of resources. The MRC have also made regenerative medicine a priority.We’ve already jointly funded (with the MRC) three groups around the UK – at Cambridge, Imperial College and Manchester – to study different aspects of stem cell behaviour. We see this as a prelude to our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.
The nature of research is that it tends to be a steady process. It’s rarely the ‘big bang’ breakthroughs that headlines report, more a stepwise process with each research project adding another small piece to the jigsaw.
However, a decade ago we couldn’t have predicted how far we’d have come already, so we can’t predict what discoveries our scientists will make tomorrow, next week, or next year.
Having said that, our estimates for the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal are that over the next five years, we’ll ramp up our support for leading scientists in laboratories around the UK. We also intend to develop up to two Centres of Regenerative Medicine to facilitate this groundbreaking work.
Within five years we hope to begin early clinical trials, within 10 we aim to be running full trials, and within a further decade we hope people who are living with heart disease will be able to look forward to a brighter future.
Monday, 21 February 2011
Join our live chat online with the BHF Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg on Thursday 24th of February between 4pm and 6pm.
This is your chance to ask us about our new appeal, you could ask us about the Zebrafish and what we can learn from them.
Or perhaps you want to know more about regenerative medicine, whatever your question we look forward to hearing them.
How do I ask a question?
The "live chat" will take place on Thursday 24th February 2011 between 4pm and 6pm.
If you can’t make that time but would still like to ask a question you can send us your question now and check the blog after 6pm on Thursday to find out your answer.
You can send us your question by:
• Emailing us your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
• Posting it on the BHF Facebook page
• Tweeting your question with the hashtag #HOPEisComing
We look forward to hearing from you!
You can be reminded of the "live" chat by accepting our event on Facebook.