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4 April 2017

Papworth Hospital awarded over £100k for Sarcoidosis Research

The British Lung Foundation and SILA: The Sarcoidosis Charity have awarded a three-year research grant of £112,816 to the Cambridge Interstitial Lung Disease Unit at Papworth Hospital, to advance cutting-edge research into cardiac sarcoidosis.

Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that causes small patches of red and swollen tissue, called granulomas, to develop in the organs of the body, predominantly involving the lungs. For young, healthy patients the disease usually improves without treatment. However, conditions involving the heart could present severe risks of heart rhythm disturbances and even sudden death. Early detection of cardiac sarcoidosis, therefore, is critical.

The SILA-BLF Sarcoidosis Research grant will enable the formation of a multi-disciplinary clinical research team. Dr Katharine Tweed, Radiologist, will lead on the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of hearts in sarcoidosis patients; and Dr Lynne Williams and Dr Sharad Agarwal, Consultant Cardiologists, will investigate the best non-invasive diagnostic tests to identify cardiac disease.  

Papworth Hospital will also be working closely with research leads at Imperial College London, Professor Ajit Lalvani, Chair of Infectious Diseases, and Dr Robert Parker, Research Associate, to identify potential blood-based biomarkers that could indicate cardiac disease.

Dr Muhunthan Thillai, Lead Clinician & Consultant Chest Physician of Cambridge Interstitial Lung Disease Unit, said: "This is an exciting collaboration between Papworth Hospital and Imperial College London. Using a sequence of cardiac tests to identify patients at risk, could transform the lives of so many sarcoidosis patients."

"Additionally, the potential of using state-of-the-art protein sequencing to identify blood markers in predicting cardiac disease, could open up more opportunities for early diagnosis."

Jack Richardson, Executive Officer at SILA, commented: "Cardiac sarcoidosis is a seriously debilitating condition. The SILA-BLF Sarcoidosis Research Grant will enable the team to find a more accurate estimate of the number of patients with cardiac sarcoidosis whilst developing vital new tests to diagnose the condition as early as possible. SILA are excited at the prospect of this research significantly improving the detection and prevention of the disease."

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, said: "Sarcoidosis is a debilitating condition and although it primarily affects the lungs, it can also affect other organs such as the heart – with potentially devastating consequences such as sudden death. Unjustifiably there is still no consensus about the prevalence of cardiac effects in pulmonary sarcoidosis patients, nor guidance for their effective diagnosis. Research into this area is vital to the future of patient care. We are proud to be funding this work with SILA to improve early diagnosis for patients, and determine how many are living with this condition."


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