TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two USF researchers from different fields of study teamed up to develop a new treatment for a potentially deadly heart condition.

It’s a collaboration that came together after a chance encounter at a hallway chalkboard.

Dr. Sami Noujaim was working on his idea for a new, non-invasive treatment for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition affecting more than 12 million Americans that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Stuck on how to move forward, he asked Dr. Michael Teng to weigh in.

Teng was returning to his office next door when Noujaim flagged him down.

“We started working on it and it’s been a really great collaboration,” Teng said. “One of those unique happenstances that only happens when you really are next to each other and talking to each other.”

Noujaim’s idea was to use a peptide found in European honeybee venom to treat the condition commonly called Afib, which causes an abnormal heart rhythm. The issue was figuring out how to deliver a bioengineered peptide to a patient and ensure it lasts in the body.

Teng, an associate professor in the Division of Allergy and Immunology, suggested attaching the peptide to an antibody.

“You have people from 2 different fields talking with each other and you can have the birth of something much bigger than one person on their own could have achieved,” Noujaim said.

As the two researchers continue to work on their collaborative treatment idea, they envision it becoming a monthly option for patients who currently take daily medications. They are now working with doctors in Spain to develop it further.

So far, the bee-inspired peptide has been tested in mice and sheep, but testing has yet to be conducted on humans