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£1.25 million grant for Manchester cardiovascular research team

A team at the National Institute for Health Research's Manchester Biomedical Research Centre investigating the role of a heart gene in high blood pressure has been awarded a five-year, £1.25 million Medical Research Council grant.

Prof Ludwig NeysesLed by Prof Ludwig Neyses with co-investigators Dr Elizabeth Cartwright, Dr Clare Austin and Dr Ming Lei from The University of Manchester's School of Biomedicine, the team is focusing on PCMA1, a pump protein which pumps calcium out of heart and vessel cells.

In several large human genetic studies, PMCA1 has been shown to be by far the strongest gene determining blood pressure and therefore is of primary medical importance, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown.

The aim of the Medical Research Council project is to determine how PMCA1 changes blood pressure as well as how it influences heart failure, a frequent consequence of high blood pressure. The eventual goal is to develop a better treatment for both conditions.

"We believe we are the first group in the world to be focusing specifically on PMCA1-mediated calcium pump mechanisms in these diseases. The Medical Research Council funding will enable us to carry out further lab work over the next five years, followed by translational studies in patients," explained Prof Neyses, who is Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at The University of Manchester and the Biomedical Research Centre.

"The success rate for winning Medical Research Council awards is around 15%, so our team is extremely pleased, particularly as the grant has exceeded the usual £1 million threshold for individual or groups awards in the laboratory sciences.  Given the current climate of cut-backs, it's a very positive endorsement of the Biomedical Research Centre's work and shows that tenacious researchers can still get funding for good projects with clear patient benefits."

The Manchester team is collaborating with groups in Italy, Germany, the United States and Norway, plus colleagues at Glasgow University's Cardiovascular Unit on the calcium pump study.