A SCIENTIST who developed a new antibiotic that could save millions of lives has died at the age of just 29.

Kirsty Smitten, from Solihull in the West Midlands, tragically lost her life last Wednesday after a months-long battle with heart cancer.

The terminal condition is so rare it affects just two Brits a year and the pioneering researcher was diagnosed in February.

Her sister-in-law Sukhi Smitten, wife of Dr Smitten’s older brother Matt, said the family were devastated by the news.

She told the Mail on Sunday: “Kirsty fought to the very end but this was such an aggressive cancer she couldn't beat it.

“She kept saying how much she had to live for — her brother, Dan, is getting married in November and Matt and I are expecting a baby in February. 

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“She would have been the most wonderful auntie. We're all heartbroken.”

Dr Smitten, who previously researched at the University of Sheffield, was treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for seven weeks before her death.

She was diagnosed three months after she woke up in the middle of the night with chest pains last November.

Doctors were puzzled about what was causing her symptoms because of how rare the condition is, with A&E medics initially thinking she had pulled a muscle.

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Prior to the shock discovery, the scientist had been fit and healthy, playing hockey and football every day.

Dr Smitten was given just a 32 per cent chance of survival for the year.

Heart cancer, known medically as cardiac angiosarcoma, causes the tumour to grow or burst, leading to heart failure.

At the time, she said: “To get any kind of growth in your heart is very rare because your heart cells don’t replicate after a certain age.

“I work in med-tech, and no one wants to fund something that only one person in 36million is going to use, so there’s no new developments."

Despite the crushing diagnosis, she continued to battle the disease and hoped to live long enough for a cure to be found.

In the early months after her diagnosis, Dr Smitten led the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

As the chief executive of MetalloBio, she helped research into two new antibiotics that help fight against drug resistant bacteria.

The drugs could help treat people with dangerous cases of meningitis and pneumonia.

She was named in Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ scientists list and was also a lead ambassador for cancer charity Sarcoma UK.

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Friends and family are coming together to raise money in her memory with a charity football match in Sheffield on October 14.

You can donate to Sarcoma UK via the match’s FoFundMe page here.

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