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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Professor Julie McMullen and Dr Jenny Ooi

Project summary

Heart failure continues to represent a major clinical problem due to increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, and an ageing population. Furthermore, heart disease associated with arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation (AF) is particularly problematic, and treatment of these patients represents a major unmet need. Additional therapeutic approaches to prevent and treat heart failure are urgently required.

This project focuses on understanding and targeting a lipid species called ganglioside GM3 (GM3). GM3 is known to contribute to adverse outcomes in settings of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. We previously reported that a therapeutic intervention which caused a decrease in GM3 was associated with better cardiac function and less arrhythmia in a mouse model of heart failure, and we have pilot data to show that GM3 is elevated in a number of cardiac disease mouse models.

Our central hypothesis is that GM3 contributes to cardiac pathology, and that inhibiting the GM3 signalling pathway will protect the heart from cardiac dysfunction and arrhythmia.

This project will assess the therapeutic potential of pharmacological tools/drugs which target different components of the GM3 pathway in the normal and diseased mouse heart.

Related methods, skills or technologies

The project is suitable for an Honours or PhD student and will involve applying various skills and techniques, including:

  • data analysis
  • PCR
  • preclinical models
  • various molecular biology techniques.

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