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Early Detection of Atrial Fibrillation

A non-invasive method for the detection of intermittent and asymptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF) and selection of most effective therapies

Published: 8th June 2020
Early Detection of Atrial Fibrillation
Header image provided by the University of Birmingham.


Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a common, chronic condition, affecting 2–3% of the population in Europe and the USA and requiring 1–3% of health-care expenditure as a result of stroke, sudden death, heart failure, unplanned hospital admissions, and other complications. Diagnosing of AF involves ECG monitoring post symptoms. However, up to 40% of AF patients are asymptomatic. Silent, undetected AF has severe consequences such as stroke and death. Screening of at-risk (older populations and those with heart failure) populations may decrease the number of patients with undetected AF.

Technology Overview

Up to one-third of AF patients carry genetic variants that predispose to AF. The most important variants are located on chromosome 4q25 close to the PITX2 gene. It has been shown that reduced pitx2c expression levels in heart tissue pre-disposes subjects to AF. Here, the inventors have shown that pitx2c expression level in the heart are correlated with ddit4 levels in blood. To exploit this, they have developed a method that can non-invasively screen patients for AF and identify those that are predisposed. Further, they have shown that decreased expression of pitx2c and therefore ddit4 indicates the most appropriate antiarrhythmic treatment (e.g. flecainide).


  • Non-invasive, early diagnosis
  • Early, initiation of treatment
  • Selection of most effective treatment
  • Alleviation of symptoms
  • Prevention of serious complications
  • Reduced cost to the NHS


  • AF biomarker
  • Companion diagnostic for AF
  • Reagent kit
  • Measurement device


  • Licensing
  • Co-development
  • EP3120149B1
  • JP2017516074A
  • EP3172571B1
  • JP2017524129A
  • US2017/0219609A1
IP Status
  • Patent application submitted
  • Patented
  • Licensing
  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner