BHF Professor Kinya Otsu, our Professor of Cardiology, is one of the world’s leading experts in the mechanisms that underlie cell death during heart failure. After 20 years building an international reputation at Osaka University in Japan, he moved to join our team at King’s College London.
Professor Otsu spoke to Heart Matters about his decision to relocate to the UK to carry out life saving research.
What is heart failure?
During a heart attack, when a heart can lose millions of cells, lack of oxygen kicks off a chain reaction of cell death. Although some cells will always be lost during a heart attack, we hope to develop new treatments to prevent cell death or even replace dead cells.
Heart failure affects more than 490,000 people in the UK, occurring after a heart attack or because of other heart problems. It can be a debilitating condition, where normal everyday tasks such as doing the shopping or simply playing with the children takes enormous energy and leaves sufferers breathless and exhausted. During heart failure, heart muscle cells work inefficiently and die.
Why do we research heart failure?
Heart failure is a debilitating condition that can devastate families as they struggle to cope with this life changing condition. Charlotte and James' lives were changed forever when their mum, Lorraine, had a heart attack that lead to heart failure.
We must do more to understand heart attack and heart failure better so that we develop better treatments for people like Lorraine, but we need your help.
£1 million award helps scientists investigate cell death
Our award of more than £1.1 million has allowed Professor Otsu to set up an experienced team of experts to investigate what happens to cells in the heart during heart failure. We are also supporting Professor Otsu’s work with an extra grant of £1.75 million.
There are several ways that cells die, and Professor Otsu’s team is especially interested in the mysterious types of cell death called autophagy and necrosis. These types are less studied than another kind of cell death, called apoptosis, which is better understood. By developing a greater understanding of how to prevent cells from dying, we might be able to find new treatments to fight heart failure.
Professor Otsu’s Professorship is part of a multi-million programme of ongoing investment at King’s College London, which also supports several other BHF Professors. One of these is BHF Professor Ajay Shah, who heads our £9 million BHF Centre of Research Excellence.
Thanks to your donations, we’re bringing some of the world’s top scientists together to make real strides towards finding new treatments for heart patients.