Determination of the SK channel composition contributing to atrial action potential duration and of predictors of response to treatments in patients with or without atrial fibrillation

Funder: NIHR and British Heart Foundation

Sponsor: University of Bristol

For the heart to pump blood round the body effectively, the upper and lower heart chambers (atria and ventricles) must beat in a repeated orderly sequence giving rise to what is known as ‘heart rhythm’. Disruptions to normal heart rhythm (‘arrhythmias’) impair blood circulation and can reduce life expectancy. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia and is estimated to effect over 1 million people in the United Kingdom. The SKArF Study aimed to understand how this arrhythmia occurs, with a view to developing more effective treatments.

In the SKArF Study we recruited adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery, both with and without bypass, and asked them to donate small pieces of atrial tissue. We recruited patients both with and without AF, and conducted laboratory experiments on these surplus tissue samples. Chiefly, the study aimed to examine the actions of a specific protein which we hypothesised may be an AF specific antiarrhythmic drug target.

Role of SK channel activation in determining the action potential configuration in freshly isolated human atrial myocytes from the SKArF study. 

The SKArF study is funded by the British Heart Foundation and is an NIHR Portfolio study. The University of Bristol has overall responsibility for the conduct of the study.

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Chief Investigator: Prof Raimondo Ascione