Most of us seldom think about
how our heart beats. The steady “lub
dub” sends blood to where it needs to
go while we go about daily life. But if
you have atrial fibrillation (Afib), it’s
not so simple.
Afib is a disruption in the heart’s
electrical system causing the two
upper parts of the heart, the atria,
to quiver. This disrupts the normal
rhythm between the atria and
the lower parts of the heart, the
ventricles, which may beat fast and
without regular rhythm. The danger
is blood can pool in the atria and
form clots, causing a stroke.
The condition is the most common
type of irregular heartbeat, and
affects about 350,000 Canadians.
The chance of developing Afib
increases with age and conditions
such as diabetes, high blood pressure
and heart disease. By 2050, some
30 million North Americans and
Europeans will have this condition.
The drugs available to treat Afib only
work in about 50 per cent
of patients and can have severe
To improve Afib treatment,
University of Alberta researchers
Dr. Jason Dyck and Dr. Peter Light
are working on a new drug. Alberta
Innovates – Health Solutions, through
the Alberta/Pfizer Translational
Research Fund Opportunity,
supports their work.
signals in the heart. This could help
the heart get back to its regular
rhythm. Their drug has already
shown exciting results in the lab and
they now want to move it to the next
stage of development.
Researchers like Dyck and Light
have been working on resveratrol
for years, since it first showed
promising results. Dyck looks at how
it affects the heart and Light focuses
on its effects on the electrical signals
that control the heart.
“The fact that the two of us have
come together on this project is really
a great example of how this funding
program fosters collaborations and
helps advance drug discovery,”
— Janet Harvey
Visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca for
more information on atrial
A natural substance called
resveratrol—found in the skin
of red grapes as well as in other
plants—forms the basis of the drug.
By making changes to resveratrol,
Dyck and Light hope to block one of
the channels that controls electrical