Malaysian gets RM1.6 million British grant for heart valve disease study

Dr Masliza is head of clinical trials group at the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research.

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian researcher has been awarded a £290,000 (RM1.6 million) British Heart Foundation (BHF) grant to carry out a pilot study in patients with aortic stenosis.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) reported that Dr Masliza Mahmod and her team would undertake the new research in aortic stenosis using a drug called fibrate, which is already used to treat people with increased fat levels in their blood.

Aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, is one of the most common and serious valve disease problems.

“We hope that this drug will reduce the excessive heart muscle fat and to see if it will improve the heart’s function and exercise capacity.

“The application was externally assessed by a panel of experts in the subject. The success was primarily based on the scientific novelty of the research and clinical importance,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an emailed response.

She said if they could show that the drug improved the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body in aortic stenosis, then it would give doctors a way to help people manage the condition with medication.

“This study is a first step in examining whether a drug that is already used to treat high fat levels in people could potentially improve heart function in aortic stenosis. If positive, there is a potential that fibrate could be a new treatment after a larger research,” she told TMR.

The grant, spread over three years, covers the cost of running the research and funding a PhD student whom Dr Masliza will supervise.

According to the report, BHF is the UK’s No 1 heart charity and it funds cardiovascular research to help people with heart diseases.

Dr Masliza, a university research lecturer, is head of clinical trials group at the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (OCMR).

She obtained a DPhil (PhD) in Cardiovascular Medicine from the University of Oxford, and Certificate of Completion of Training in Cardiology, UK. Dr Masliza obtained a Masters of Medicine from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and a primary medical degree from the University of Otago, New Zealand. She holds a membership of the UK’s Royal Colleges of Physicians.