Traditional Chinese Medicine prescribes bear bile, a digestive juice produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder, for many ailments. The bile contains urosodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) which is believed to act as an anti-inflammatory, reducing fever, protecting liver and improving eye sight.

Published in the Journal Hepathology, researchers from Imperial College London synthesized ursodeoxycholic acid (the compound found in bear bile) to work as a remedy to prevent cardiac arrhythmia in the heart.

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is primarily used as a drug to decrease production of cholesterol in the body and dissolve gallstones. UDCA possesses properties to correct the cells that interfere with electrical signals in the heart that causes arrhythmia.

Heart Arrhythmia is caused by the malfunction of the heart's internal electrical system, which controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. During each beat an electrical signal travels from the top of the heart created by cells in the Sinoatrial node. Arrhythmia occurs when there is a change in the electrical properties of the heart cells causing heart beats to speed up or slow down.

In the study of Myofibroblasts, cells that interfere with the electrical signal to control heart beats lead to arrhythmia in fetuses and for people who suffered from a heart attack. The Synthesized UDCA is able to prevent this from happening by altering the electrical properties of the non functioning myofibroblasts.

Study leader, Dr Julia Gorelik, from the National Heart and Lung Institute said, "These findings are exciting because the treatments we have now are largely ineffective at preventing arrhythmia in patients who develop an abnormal heart rhythm after a heart attack." she continued to explain that "Our results from the lab suggest that UDCA could help the heart muscle conduct electrical signals more normally."

"We think that targeting these cells could be an important new approach for preventing abnormal heart rhythm, not just in the fetus, but also in people who have had a heart attack,” said Professor Catherine Williamson from the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Co-author of the study.