University of Glasgow

Professor Rhian Touyz

BHF Centre of Research Excellence

World-renowned scientist BHF Professor Rhian Touyz leads our Centre at the University of Glasgow.

Professor Touyz and her team are hoping to come up with ways to prevent heart attacks using innovative research approaches. The funding will allow Glasgow scientists to investigate blood vessel damage. Caused by chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, it is the root cause of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart failure. The researchers will use cutting-edge technology to study blood vessel damage, and find ways to repair or treat them.

Regrowing lost blood vessels and gene therapy

Professor Colin Berry, another leading heart researcher at Glasgow, is working closely with BHF Professor Andrew Baker to develop new therapies that use stem cells to regrow lost or damaged blood vessels. Developing this type of ‘regenerative’ treatment is the aim of our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal

After 15 years in the lab, the scientists are working towards taking the gene therapy into the first human clinical trials. If successful, the therapy may prevent heart bypass failure. The best way to treat chest pain, or angina, is through bypass surgery where blood is re-routed through transplanted vein to avoid a blocked artery. However, there can be problems with using veins.

"This vein suddenly has to take over the workload of an artery, which carries blood at a higher pressure," explains Professor Baker, "And this can eventually cause the transplanted vein to thicken and narrow becoming just like the blocked artery it was meant to replace."

Professor Baker and his team at Glasgow are working towards starting trials in patients to test the safety and effectiveness of a gene therapy technique that could prevent the bypass vein thickening. "If the clinical trials show our therapy is safe and works then it could eventually be offered to people at risk of bypass failure and prevent a recurrence of angina." 

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