Scientist hopes London Marathon efforts bring heart failure cure a step closer

A scientist behind a patch-like heart patch that he believes could save countless lives, said donations to his team’s groundbreaking research will help inspire him across the finish line of next month’s London Marathon.

The revolutionary patch aims to help people with heart failure – who have a 50/50 chance of survival after five years – to live longer and better quality lives.

Heart failure is when the vital organ is unable to properly pump blood around the body.


The piece of heart tissue contracts like the heart muscle does when it beats (Saatchi and Saatchi London – Alan Clarke/PA)

In the UK alone, an estimated 920,000 people are living with the disease, with around 200,000 new diagnoses being made each year.

In research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Professor Sanjay Sinha and his team from the University of Cambridge have succeeded in creating a piece of heart tissue that, like the heart muscle, contracts when it beats.

They aim to transplant the patches to damaged areas of the heart to help repair the vital organ and hope additional funding can help enable the patch’s first clinical trials in patients.

The team has spent years researching the patch, which is grown in a Petri dish and uses stem cells along with a specific mix of proteins called growth factors.

Fittingly, Prof Sinha’s starting number for the October 2nd marathon is 17,000 – the number of people diagnosed with heart failure each month in the UK.


Funds raised by Prof. Sinha and other BHF runners will go towards cutting-edge research projects in regenerative medicine (Saatchi and Saatchi London – Alan Clarke/PA)

Funds raised by Prof Sinha and other BHF runners will go to nine cutting-edge regenerative medicine research projects – including the patch – all aimed at finding a cure for heart failure.

Prof Sinha, BHF Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Cambridge, said the patch “may have the ability to improve and save the lives of millions of people worldwide”.

He added, “Our hope for the heart healing patch is to restore lifespan and quality of life to people with heart failure.

“The support of the runners and supporters of BHF at this year’s TCS London Marathon could be truly transformative and help us conduct the first clinical trials of the patch in patients.

“Running the marathon will not be an easy task, but knowing that it could help fund my team’s research and bring hope to the millions of people affected by heart failure will inspire me across the finish line.”

Alexandra Ellis, a mother of two from Darlington who suffers from heart failure, said the charity’s research gives her hope for a cure.


Alexandra Ellis said the charity’s continued research gives her hope for a heart failure cure (Saatchi and Saatchi London – Owen Harvey and At Traylor/PA)

Although she underwent successful open-heart surgery at the age of 12 after being diagnosed with a hole in her heart, damage to the organ meant she was diagnosed with heart failure in 2019, aged just 29.

It affects her breathing and she takes medication to relieve her symptoms, but she described the condition as “casting a shadow” on her life and that of her family, adding, “We don’t know what the future may hold.”

She said: “The British Heart Foundation’s research gives me all the hope in the world that there are new breakthroughs out there.

“Thanks to advances in medical research, my life has been saved before – and I have no doubt it will save my life again.”

BHF Managing Director Dr. Charmaine Griffiths said: “The Heart Healing Patch could revolutionize the way we care for people with damaged hearts, moving from just treating the symptoms of heart failure to a cure.

“But we can only make the patch happen with the generous support of the public.

“That’s why we’re calling on the nation to get behind Sanjay on the day of the TCS London Marathon through fundraising, donations and support to help get this groundbreaking research to the finish line even faster.”

To donate to BHF visit Scientist hopes London Marathon efforts bring heart failure cure a step closer

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