British Heart Foundation Award £1m Senior Fellowship to Dr Allan Lawrie for research in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) have recently awarded a Senior Basic Science Research Fellowship to Dr Dr Allan LawrieAllan Lawrie from the Department of Cardiovascular Science to continue his world-leading research into understanding the basic molecular mechanisms driving pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) pathogenesis. The award of £1m is the first time that a BHF Senior Fellowship has been awarded to Sheffield.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare but devastating disease that often affects young females and has a life expectancy of 2.8 years without treatment. Pathologically PAH is characterised by sustained narrowing of the blood vessels in the lung by a process called vasoconstriction, and a progressive obliteration of small resistance pulmonary arteries by vascular cell proliferation, vessel wall fibrosis and the formation of angioproliferative lesions. Current treatments target the sustained vasoconstriction but the prognosis of patients remains poor, as they do not challenge the underlying proliferation of vascular cells. Sheffield is one of the largest specialist centres for pulmonary vascular disease worldwide, and presents an ideal opportunity for world-class research. Work from Dr Lawrie’s lab has recently demonstrated the importance for the OPG/TRAIL axis of proteins in disease pathogenesis. Data published last year in the Journal of Experimental Medicine demonstrated that anti-TRAIL antibody treatment reversed experimental PAH, and data soon to be submitted demonstrates the same for an anti-OPG antibody. The aim of this BHF Senior Fellowship award is to dissect the molecular interaction between then proteins to determine whether TRAIL and OPG work independently or co-operatively, identify their cellular source of each, elucidate their signalling pathways, and characterise the OPG protein interactions with newly identified membrane proteins.

Sheila Francis, HOD Cardiovascular Science said “everyone is the Department is very proud of this fantastic achievement. Allan and his team are engaged in ground-breaking science that may well lead to a new class treatments for PAH in the future. This award puts Sheffield well and truly on the world map for research into treatments for this condition.”