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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Dr Yung-Chih Chen

Project summary

Can probiotic treatment reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the major cause of disability and death worldwide. It is typically caused by the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques in coronary arteries. The whole-genome human microbiome project revealed the diversity of microbes and identified many genes across various body parts and their fundamental roles in human health and disease.

Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that circulating Trimethylamin N-oxide (TMAO) levels are associated with an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. Interestingly, gut bacteria are known to metabolise TMA as their growth factor and convert TMA to TMAO. Unsurprisingly, diets rich in carnitine, lecithin and choline are positively correlated to plasma TMAO levels. Nevertheless, the mechanism of how TMAO affects atherosclerosis is less clear.

We would like to investigate this missing link by using our novel animal model of plaque instability and a novel compound to inhibit the TMAO production. Students involved in this project will be trained in essential skills in atherosclerotic studies and basic histology. Basic molecular biology training will also provided. Further training in small animal imaging and molecular imaging is also possible for potential PhD students.

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project is suitable for a MastersHonours or PhD student and will involve the application of immunocytochemistry, flowcytometry, interventions, animal models, molecular biology and data analysis.

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