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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Anna Calkin and Associate Professor Brian Drew

The Lipid Metabolism and Cardiometabolic Disease laboratory has identified PSMD9 as a novel target for the treatment of fatty liver disease. This project will  test its effectiveness as a therapy to protect the liver against this condition and further characterise the mechanisms by which PSMD9 is protective.

Project summary

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition suffered by over 6 million Australians. It is characterised by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Fatty liver disease can develop into more advanced disease, known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), characterised by scarring and inflammation, and for a small number of individuals, can eventually lead to liver cancer.  Currently, there are few effective tools available to diagnose this condition and there are no effective treatments, highlighting an unmet clinical need.

Using a novel discovery platform, we recently identified PSMD9 as a potential new target for the treatment of NAFLD/NASH (Parker et al. 2019). In short term studies, we have demonstrated that PSMD9 was effective at reducing key pathways in the liver linked to the development of NAFLD, and more recent studies have shown effectiveness in longer term studies in a model of NASH. Using cells and preclinical models, this project will contribute to our understanding of the ways in which PSMD9 induces liver protection and will guide studies towards clinical translation.

Given that over 6 million Australians have fatty liver disease, identifying an effective new therapy to treat this condition has the potential to impact the lives of many Australians.

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project utilise numerous skills and technologies, including working with animal models of disease, cell culture, interventions, data analysis and molecular biology techniques.

This project is suitable for an Honours student.

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