Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The British Heart Foundation award aims to help researchers rewrite DNA, in “defining moment” for cardiovascular medicine.

Illustration of males and females stood in a row, each with radiating circles over their hearts, which are highlighted in red

An injectable cure for inherited heart muscle conditions that can kill young people in the prime of their lives could be available within a few years, after an international team of researchers, led by Oxford University’s Professor Hugh Watkins and Harvard University’s Professor Christine Seideman, were announced as the winners of the British Heart Foundation’s Big Beat Challenge.

The global award, at £30m, is one of the largest non-commercial grants ever given and presents a “once in a generation opportunity” to provide hope for families struck by these killer diseases.

The winning team, CureHeart, will seek to develop the first cures for inherited heart muscle diseases by pioneering revolutionary and ultra-precise gene therapy technologies that could edit or silence the faulty genes that cause these deadly conditions.  

This is our once-in-generation opportunity to relieve families of the constant worry of sudden death, heart failure and potential need for a heart transplant. After 30 years of research, we have discovered many of the genes and specific genetic faults responsible for different cardiomyopathies, and how they work. We believe that we will have a gene therapy ready to start testing in clinical trials in the next five years.
- Professor Hugh Watkins

“The £30 million from the BHF’s Big Beat Challenge will give us the platform to turbo-charge our progress in finding a cure so the next generation of children diagnosed with genetic cardiomyopathies can live long, happy and productive lives,” said Professor Watkins, who is the British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford University's Radcliffe Department of Medicine

Professor Keith Channon, Head of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, said: “I am delighted that the BHF have chosen the CureHeart team to deliver on this world-leading challenge. The Radcliffe Department of Medicine looks forward to supporting and fostering the collaborations between scientists and researchers from many disciplines who will be key to the success of the Cure Heart programme.”

The team, made up of world-leading scientists from the UK, US and Singapore, were selected by an International Advisory Panel chaired by Professor Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government.

Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of the Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford commented: ‘This is an extraordinary opportunity for the CureHeart team to make a difference in the lives of so many patients across the world. We have a long history of multidisciplinary working here in the Medical Sciences Division, and pride ourselves in the many successes our scientists have had in translating their cutting-edge lab research into real life treatments. This work by Professor Watkins and the international CureHeart team exemplifies this ethic at its best and we are truly excited to see their progress.’

Read the full story on the Radcliffe Department of Medicine website. 

Similar stories

EAVI2020: The Quest for an HIV Vaccine

In this long read published to coincide with International AIDS Day, we explore how an international collaboration – of which the University of Oxford is a key partner – has boosted HIV vaccine research. We thank our partners at Imperial College London for allowing us to reproduce and abridge this article.

New SMRU building opened in Thailand to provide health care to marginalized populations

The inauguration of a new joint Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) and Borderland Health Foundation (BHF) Building took place in Mae Ramat, Thailand, this week.

Smoking increases the risks of 56 diseases in Chinese adults

Smoking increases the risks of 56 diseases and kills more than one million adults in China each year from 22 different causes, according to new research published in The Lancet Public Health.

Success for Oxford researchers in The Genetics Society 2023 Awards

Researchers from Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Radcliffe Department of Medicine and Nuffield Department of Population Health have been recgonised in The Genetics Society 2023 awards.

New Studentship honours Enzo Cerundolo

A new Studentship has been announced in memory of the late MRC HIU Director and MRC WIMM Group Leader.