North-east academics have secured funding to investigate how the heart is built in the womb.
The Aberdeen University researchers are hoping that fully understanding this could help develop drugs and techniques to repair it in adult life.
The new study, supported by a five-year grant from the British Heart Foundation worth more than £1 million, will examine how the embryonic heart is built to see if lessons can be learned that will inform ways to treat damage in later life.
Professor Stefan Hoppler, from the Aberdeen University’s Institute of Medical Sciences said: “Given the massive impact cardiovascular disease has on individuals and on our health care systems, this fundamental research could eventually lead to significant beneficial impact.
“Unlocking the secrets of how heart muscle cells are generated during embryonic life not only helps our understanding of birth defects in newborns but will also provide valuable clues as to how we can develop treatments to replicate this for the benefit of adult heart patients.”
Director of the new Aberdeen Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre, professor Mirela Delibegovic said: “This is a great example of the quality of research at Aberdeen into fundamental sciences in heart development.”