So some of the things we’ve been doing as well as scanning all of our patients and investigating all of their arteries and trying to understand how they work, we’ve also been collecting blood from them and also from some fantastic healthy volunteers. Bits of skin we’ve been taking as well and analysing to try and understand how the cells in the skin stick together and whether that’s different in SCAD patients as a way of understanding why these tears and splits develop in the wall of the arteries.
We’ve made some progress, we’ve discovered the first common variant,this is a type of gene that we all carry, if you like it’s like a type of genetic risk factor. So we’ve identified the first risk gene for SCAD and we published that a few years ago. We’ve also been looking at rarer genes which can contribute to the risk of SCAD. So understanding genetics is really important, not just because we can look at somebody’s genes and say whether they’re at higher risk or lower risk and these kind of things, but also because it gives you insights into what’s causing it because the genes take you on a journey to the proteins that they produce and therefore the mechanisms that are happening down at the cellular level to understand what’s going on. So these are just some of the initial steps on what we hope will not be too long a journey, but nevertheless is a journey to understanding the underlying causes of this condition and helping our patient population, hopefully reduce the risk of recurrence and make swift and complete recoveries from this disease.
So we’re very grateful to our patients, we’re hugely grateful to a very, very hardworking team of researchers, research nurses and administrators and so on who allow this all to happen. And a big thumbs up also to the people that fund us, which has included BeatSCAD, which is the patient organisation themselves who’ve raised a lot of money through their efforts to support our research, the British Heart Foundation and the NIHR including the Biomedical Research Centre which is so critical to the research we do in Leicester.