Professor Fox’s research focused on the mechanisms by which coronary heart disease develops. He investigated the ways we can monitor the development of disease in the lab and the clinic. And he looked to establish new life saving treatments.
Find out more about how this research helped to change doctors' guidelines.
Interrupting disease progress
Professor Fox's University of Edinburgh team examined patients with coronary heart disease to find out how we can interrupt the build-up of fatty plaques and reduce the risk of heart attack and heart failure.
Fox's team investigated the impact of genetic and environmental factors on the early steps that lead to the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessel walls. These fatty deposits are also known as atheroma. They contain a mixture materials, including immune cells and deposits of fats including cholesterol.
The Edinburgh researchers looked at the influence of genes, the environment and the body's own immune system on the build-up of fatty plaques. They also examined the biological processes leading to blood clotting. These factors all contribute to defects in the cells lining the artery wall, also known as the endothelium.
The Edinburgh group has unravelled the components of atheroma using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), optical imaging techniques and high resolution ultrasound.
Researchers are now taking this knowledge into real-life situations to reveal the health and make-up of blood vessels in patients with coronary heart disease. This work has the potential to identify patients at risk and improve treatments.
Professor Fox hopes these techniques will also benefit the care of patients with other heart and skeletal muscle conditions, including heart failure.
Threatened heart attack
Professor Fox is an international expert in acute coronary syndromes, which occur in people due to narrowed coronary arteries causing chest pain. They are sometimes described as 'threatened heart attacks'.
Fox’s team has led major studies to reveal the best way to treat acute coronary syndromes. The syndromes often indicate that a full-blown heart attack is just around the corner, so it is crucial to get treatment right and protect people from a dangerous attack.
The work from Edinburgh has already changed national and international guidelines for best practice. Professor Fox continues to research the biology underlying acute coronary syndromes, and tackle the risks and benefits of potential new therapies to prevent the build up of dangerous blood clots in diseased arteries.
Cardiac specific gene targeting
Fox's team also explored the key genes involved in blood pressure regulation and the development of hardening of the arteries. This has helped us to understand the mechanisms for the development of evidence based therapies.
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