Research into deadly heart conditions boosted by donation from Freemasons

7 December 2015        

Picture of BHF researchers at the University of Liverpool receiving a £100,000 donation cheque from the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

Local Freemasons are helping fund our research into deadly heart conditions at the University of Liverpool thanks to a £100,000 donation.

The researchers are studying a protein which is essential to a healthy heartbeat. Faulty versions of the protein can lead to a risk of sudden death. The Freemasons' healthcare charity, the Masonic Samaritan Fund, made the donation after a vote of local Freemasons who nominated us to receive the grant. The official handover of the cheque (pictured) was made on Thursday 3 December at the University.

Studying heartbeat protein

Dr Olga Mayans and Dr Daniel Rigden at Liverpool's Institute of Integrative Biology are studying the largest protein in the body – titin. With every heartbeat titin in each heart muscle cell stretches and relaxes. Titin is essential for ensuring a regular heartbeat.

But, partly due to its size, different people can have slightly different versions of titin. Most of these different versions are not a problem but a small number can cause a heart muscle disease, or cardiomyopathy, which can increase a person's risk of sudden cardiac death. So far scientists have struggled to find the versions of titin that can be dangerous.

Find out more about life with a cardiomyopathy.

Improving diagnosis of deadly heart conditions

Using state of the art techniques the researchers are studying how titin binds to other proteins in the heart muscle and whether different versions of titin bind differently. This will help Dr Mayans and Dr Rigden find the risky forms of titin. This information could then be used to improve diagnosis of these conditions by developing a test to detect dangerous versions of titin.

Dr Olga Mayans, lead researcher at the University of Liverpool, said: 

“We are very proud to receive this support from the Masonic Samaritan Fund and the British Heart Foundation. Without their generosity we wouldn’t be able to continue making progress with our research.”

Donations power progress

The Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison, who handed over the cheque while visiting the Liverpool labs, said: 

“We were delighted to be able to demonstrate our support for the British Heart Foundation by nominating the charity to receive a grant. Over 1,000 Freemasons from around the Lancashire area nominated a research project and the success of the British Heart Foundation shows how keen Freemasons are to support cardiac research.”

The British Heart Foundation is one of thirteen medical research charities the Masonic Samaritan Fund has supported this year with grants totalling £1.125million.

We can only make progress through research with the continued support of individuals and groups like the Freemasons. Help us fund more life saving research like this by making a donation.

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