Professor Paul Riley
BHF Professor of Regenerative Medicine
University of Oxford
Learning how to regenerate the heart after a heart attack
was once considered science fiction. But BHF Professor Paul Riley
is leading a dedicated team of scientists who are turning heart
regeneration into a reality.
Working with the BHF Centre of Research Excellence
Based at UCL’s Institute of Child Health for over a decade,
Paul has investigated how the heart develops in the embryo. But
thanks to Paul’s BHF-funded role at the University of Oxford,
he will now move to take advantage of our BHF Centre of Research Excellence.
Paul is working with other leading heart researchers at the
Oxford Centre. This is helping him translate his lab research
into medicines. This research is vital if we are to mend broken
hearts and start to treat heart
Can the heart repair itself?
Paul and his team demonstrated in mice that certain adult heart cells can be stimulated chemically to
repair heart damage. The chemical, a protein called thymosin β4
(tβ4), helps specialist cells surrounding the heart move to the
damaged area of the heart and turn into new heart muscle, helping
the heart pump efficiently once more.
Now Professor Riley and his team want to learn more about the
genetics behind how these special cells can turn into new heart
tissue. Once Paul and his team know more about how the regenerative
process works, they can find ways to replicate it effectively.
Our scientists have created new heart muscle cells (red) that can join up with existing heart muscle (green).
Although tβ4 is exciting, there may be other molecules that
could be more efficient at mending broken hearts. At Oxford the
team are screening hundreds of thousands of small molecules to see
if they can help heart regeneration. Oxford’s fantastic drug
development facilities at the BHF-funded Target Discovery Institute
are boosting this process.
Professor Riley’s research offers the hope that within a decade we will be able to
teach damaged hearts to repair themselves so that we can help the
UK’s 750,000 heart failure sufferers.
Find out more
about the science behind Mending Broken Hearts.
You can help us to
find a cure for heart failure by donating today.