Professor Sanjay Sinha, who is leading the British Heart Foundation (BHF)-funded research to develop the heart healing patch, will run the TCS London Marathon 2022, a statement said.
His initiative is to fund the patch, which could be applied to damaged hearts like a plaster to help them repair, to become a reality.
According to the statement, it could save and improve the lives of millions of people worldwide living with heart failure, a currently incurable condition that can shorten lives and can be so debilitating that everyday tasks like climbing a flight of stairs becomes a struggle.
Funds raised by BHF runners at this year’s Marathon will go towards cutting-edge research into regenerative medicine. The heart healing patch is one of nine projects that will benefit from the money raised at the TCS London Marathon, where the BHF is the charity of the year for 2022.
The BHF is now seeking support for Sinha, who will run the famous 26.2-mile course on 2 October.
The scientist’s running number will be 17,000, similar to the number of people diagnosed with heart failure in the UK each month.
“Heart failure can have a devastating impact, with only a 50/50 chance of survival for anyone living with the condition after five years. We also know that heart failure can dramatically impact quality of life, with even the simplest tasks like walking to the shops or getting dressed causing breathlessness and discomfort,” said Professor Sinha, BHF Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge.
“Our hope for the heart healing patch is to restore the lifespan and quality of life for people living with heart failure. The support of the BHF’s runners and supporters at this year’s London Marathon could be truly transformative and help us carry out the first clinical trials of the patch in patients.
“Running the marathon will be no easy feat, but knowing that it could help fund the research of my team and provide hope for the millions affected by heart failure will inspire me over that finish line.”
Sinha and his team at the University of Cambridge have spent years researching the heart healing patch, which is grown in a petri dish.
Using stem cells to make new heart tissue is a promising approach, but scientists have previously faced challenges when transplanting these cells into the heart, as they struggle to grow and function properly.
By using stem cells and giving them a specific mixture of proteins called growth factors, Sanjay and his team have been able to stimulate the cells into becoming heart tissue. These specialised cells are then grown on a ‘scaffold’ made of collagen to support the growth of these cells.
The technology behind the heart healing patch has been successful in rats and the funding from the TCS London Marathon will help it to progress to human trials.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive at the BHF, said: “Regenerative medicine offers much-needed hope for the almost one million people living with heart failure in the UK. The heart healing patch could revolutionise the way we care for people with damaged hearts and move away from merely treating the symptoms of heart failure, towards a cure.
“But the only way we can make the patch a reality is through the generous support of the public. That’s why we are calling on the nation to rally behind Sanjay through fundraising, donations and support on the day of the marathon, to help get this ground-breaking research over the finish line even faster.”
Around 64 million people worldwide are living with heart failure, with an estimated 920,000 people living with the condition in the UK. There are around 200,000 new diagnoses each year in the UK.
To donate, visit: gosanjay.bhf.org.uk