A German-Dutch consortium has received a grant of one million euros from Nederlandse Hartstichting (the Dutch Heart Foundation) and the Deutsches Zentrum fur Herz-KreisLauf-Forschung for research into cardiac arrhythmias. This research is associated with the Medical Delta Cardiac Arrhythmia Lab scientific program. The main applicant for the grant, Prof. Dr. Bianca Brundel, is one of the Scientific Leaders of this program.
Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias. In the Netherlands alone there are about 300,000 patients. The German and Dutch researchers within the ‘DnaFIX’ consortium are investigating the hereditary aspect of atrial fibrillation. Under the leadership of cardiologist-electrophysiologist and Medical Delta professor Prof. Dr. Natasja de Groot, Erasmus MC is studying changes in the electrical conductivity in heart muscle cells of mice and humans.
“We are the first to investigate whether damage to DNA is the underlying hereditary factor for the development of atrial fibrillation,” says De Groot.”We are also investigating whether this DNA damage also causes electrical conduction, which causes atrial fibrillation. We know that heart failure, high blood pressure and old age increase the risk of the condition. But not much is known about the hereditary aspect. While it often occurs, even in young people.”
The research project is going to last four years. The research team has an interdisciplinary composition. With the grant, the team appoints PhD students for the research, purchases equipment and develops tests. In addition, De Groot and Brundel open the first outpatient clinic in the Netherlands for patients with hereditary atrial fibrillation.
The scientists hope the research will be able to unravel and understand the ‘pathway’ of hereditary atrial fibrillation. They want to use that knowledge to develop a therapy to help patients live better with this heart rhythm disorder.
Visit the website of the AFIP Foundation for information about hereditary atrial fibrillation.