I am delighted to announce that Associate Professor Neil Herring has been appointed to the APTF in association with Exeter College. Neil undertook his medical training in Oxford and completed his DPhil in the department. He is an Honorary Consultant Physician in Cardiovascular Medicine and was recently made a Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians. He will continue to undertake some clinical duties, but his research will be based in the department. - Head of Department, Professor David Paterson
A heart attack is caused when the blood supply to the heart becomes blocked. Many people still die from this condition owing to life-threatening heart rhythms or heart failure causing a weakened heart. After 50 years of research, beta-blockers are the only type of drug we have found that prolongs life after a heart attack by preventing dangerous heart rhythms. These drugs target norepinephrine, a chemical that can trigger dangerous heart rhythms when the heart is damaged. Norepinephrine is a type of “neurotransmitter” - chemicals released by a specific group of nerves.
Associate Professor Neil Herring's research group, funded by the British Heart Foundation, has discovered that the same group of nerves also release a neurotransmitter called neuropeptide-Y (NPY), and that levels of NPY within the heart are very high following a heart attack and during heart failure. Prof Herring and his team has shown that NPY can trigger dangerous heart rhythms and worsen heart failure by further restricting the heart’s blood supply.
Associate Professor Neil Herring said: "The goal of our ongoing research is two-fold: to discover whether standard blood samples taken from veins to measure NPY can help doctors identify patients at highest risk of death, and to better understand the role that NPY plays in controlling the heart, blood vessels and nerves so that drugs can be made to combat its actions."
Over the summer, a major new study led by Prof Herring established a new approach to reducing damage after a heart attack. It was published in a paper entitled Neuropeptide-Y causes coronary microvascular constriction and is associated with reduced ejection fraction following ST-elevation myocardial infarction in the European Heart Journal.
The department would like to congratulate Prof Herring on his appointment as Associate Professor in Cardiovascular Physiology and Tutorial Fellow at Exeter College.