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15 February 2002 News Update


The British Heart Foundation has opened a 5.4 million pounds sterling centre at University College London (UCL) to speed up cardiac research discoveries and turn them into new drugs and life-saving clinical therapies.

Four of the country's top cardiac specialists - Professors G Haworth, S Humphries, J Martin and P Vallance - are brought together under one roof for the first time at the laboratories which are called the Rylance Institute.

They head a team of 120 scientists who will concentrate on fresh ways of preventing and treating heart problems while sharing their discoveries with other researchers to avoid duplication.

The BHF's medical director, Professor Sir Charles George, said: "Every year we award around 50 million pounds to researchers across the UK who are looking for new and improved ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating heart disease. But our four key researchers at UCL will be working side by side to take research back to the basics and help piece together the jigsaw of the causes of cardiovascular ailments.

''By harnessing this high level of expertise and experience under one roof, we are keeping the UK at the cutting edge of international heart research. This concentration of scientific minds has the potential to bring huge benefits to patients both in the UK and across the world.''

Heart disease remains the biggest cause of death in the UK claiming more than 170,000 lives annually, and the statistics tell a similar story in many other countries. More than two thirds of these deaths (around 135,000) will be caused by coronary heart disease (CHD).

Many cases of CHD can be prevented by following simple lifestyle advice such as smoking cessation, healthy diet and exercise. But a greater understanding of how damage occurs to the body's coronary arteries (the fundamental biological processes that form the basis of heart disease) is still required to allow scientists to develop new drugs, therapies and treatments.

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