Can we prevent anti-cancer drugs damaging the heart?

Metabolic derangement in doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity assessed using hyperpolarised 13C MRS

Kerstin Timm (lead researcher)

Oxford, University of

Start date: 16 May 2016 (Duration 3 years)

BHF Immediate Postdoctoral Basic Science Research Fellow Dr Kerstin Timm is finding out how an anti-cancer drug called doxorubicin damages the heart, and if we can prevent this damage.

Doxorubicin has significantly increased survival rates from cancer in children and adults. Unfortunately, doxorubicin and other anti-cancer drugs can have serious side effects on the heart. Researchers do not yet fully understand how this happens, so detecting any abnormal changes in the heart early on in people given doxorubicin is almost impossible. Understanding how doxorubicin can affect heart function may allow us to intervene early using drugs to prevent heart damage.

Dr Timm has already discovered that the way the heart makes energy may change after doxorubicin treatment. In this project, she will study in heart muscle cells and in rats whether these changes in energy production occur before the heart stops working normally. She will work out if these changes can be detected early before heart function drops off using a non-invasive imaging technique called hyperpolarised magnetic resonance. She will then find out if other drugs, such as dichloroacetate or metformin, can prevent these changes.

This research may reveal a new way to detect heart damage early during doxorubicin treatment. It may reveal a new way to protect the heart during cancer treatment.

Project details

Grant amount £254,587
Grant type Fellowship
Application type Immediate PostDoctoral Basic Science Research Fellowship
Start Date 16 May 2016
Duration 3 years
Reference FS/16/7/31843
Status In progress

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