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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Judy de Haan, Professor Rebecca Ritchie and Dr Arpeeta Sharma

Research focus

To lessen diabetic inflammation using both a pharmacological and genetic approach to improve diabetic cardiac and vascular complications.

Project summary

Cardiovascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) lead to significant morbidity and mortality (heart attacks and stroke), for which standard treatment options are insufficient to halt or reduce this clinical burden. T2D affects almost 2 million Australians, and its prevalence is expected to increase with the growing obesity epidemic. Therefore, there is a strong clinical need to identify new pathways and targets for effective drug treatment. Recent evidence suggests that 'sterile' inflammation plays a significant role via the NLRP3 inflammasome.

This project will use a recently identified inhibitor of the NLRP3 inflammasome as well as Il-1β knockout mice to investigate whether inhibition of inflammasome activation and function lessens diabetic cardiovascular complications. The susceptibility of endothelial and cardiac cells to inflammasome-mediated injury will be assessed in iPSC-derived cardiac and endothelial human and mouse cells. Therefore, this project uses both pharmacological and genetic manipulations to address the role of this key component, the inflammasome, in diabetic cardiac and vascular complications.

This project is suitable for a PhD student and will use various technique, including:

  • preclinical models of diabetic cardiac and vascular disease
  • assessment of vascular and cardiac function
  • derivation of iPSCs
  • Western blotting of key inflammasome components
  • reactive oxygen species (ROS) detection
  • real‐time PCR
  • histology.

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With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

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