A NEW £45m centre in Headington jointly run by Oxford University and the British Heart Foundation will hope to attract “the world’s best junior scientists and fellows.”

The national charity for heart disease will contribute £10m to a new centre at the university’s Old Road campus, hoping to build on research already being done into combating and treating heart disease.

Oxford University and British Heart Foundation academic Professor Paul Riley said that the centre would “bring experts from a number of different fields” to help develop innovative research already being done in Oxford.

The 46-year-old said: “We’ll only fill 50 per cent of places from Oxford as we want to bring, to the UK, the world’s best junior scientists and fellows.”

It is not yet known how many staff would be working at the centre.

Currently the charity has raised £2.3m for the centre, and hopes to reach its funding target by the end of the year.

The rest of the money will be provided by Oxford University.

If all goes to plan, the centre could be opened by 2018.

Yesterday, it was revealed that a £300,000 research project at Oxford, partially funded by the Foundation, had made significant steps in tackling heart problems.

It found that using protein to stimulate cells in the body’s immune system could dramatically improve the rate of recovery in heart attack patients.

Prof Riley, who led the study, said: “It’s very exciting.

“I think these findings open up a whole new area of research.”

The 20 scientists and researchers who worked on the project found that lymphatic cells, an integral part of the body’s immune system, can be stimulated to grow through the use of a protein called VEGF-C.

Through promoting the growth of these cells after a heart attack, researchers found a new way to “regenerate” the heart.

With more lymphatic cells, the immune system’s white blood cells are encouraged to move towards the heart and work to repair damage caused by heart attacks.

According to the British Heart Foundation, an average of 1,386 people die in Oxfordshire every year, some of whom may benefit from the new study.

Although the study has only been done on mice so far, Prof Riley hopes that the findings can move to a human-based clinical trial within 10 years.

The father-of-two added: “I’m very excited about the prospects of the findings and what making more lymphatic cells can do to improve outcomes for humans.”