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Cardiovascular Endocrinology

Understanding the endocrine mechanisms of cardiac fibrosis and inflammation.

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Associate Professor Morag Young

Alice Baker and Eleanor Shaw Gender Equity Fellow

Phone:+61 3 8532 1111

Latest Achievements

Monash Health Award, Improving healthcare through clinical research (2019)

Alice Baker and Eleanor Shaw Gender Equity Fellowship (2020)

Senior Editor for The Journal of Endocrinology, The Journal of Molecular Endocrinology and The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

American Heart Association Best Basic Science Paper (2009)

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Associate Professor Morag Young Alice Baker and Eleanor Shaw Gender Equity Fellow
Our goal is to understand endocrine mechanisms of cardiac tissue fibrosis and inflammation and to define cell selective pathways for MR signalling to deliver effective, well-tolerated treatments for cardiac fibrosis.

Students

PhD students

Ms Monica Kanki Mr Nikshay Karthigan

Honours students

Mr Nick Kashyap Ms Vera Wang Ms Vanessa Yui

 

About the Cardiovascular Endocrinology laboratory

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood due to ‘stiffening’ of the myocardium caused by increased tissue fibrosis and changes in myocardial passive stiffness. Tissue injury, with chronic inflammation and fibrogenesis, results in disruption of normal tissue architecture and function and can progress to organ failure. Therapeutic options for chronic fibrosis, in the heart and other organs, are severely limited.

A new biology for the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR)

It was believed that chronic MR activation resulted in high blood pressure only, and increased Angiotensin II signalling caused fibrosis. However, we have shown that mineralocorticoids cause cardiac fibrosis via direct actions in the heart, contributing to large-scale clinical trials that established a major role for MR signalling in heart failure.

The 'textbook' model of MR biology is flawed

The MR controls numerous processes in non-renal tissues. Understanding MR mechanisms of action in these tissues is a prerequisite for future discovery of drugs that are selective for MR in the heart. Accordingly, we have developed a suite of tissue-specific MR null mice and genetically modified cell lines in order to understand this new MR biology as it relates to heart disease. Outcomes of this laboratories work identifying cell selective pathways, conformational changes and ligand dependent protein interactions for the MR have led to engagement with industry and together with clinical testing of preclinical data have created a pipeline for translating new therapies for cardiac fibrosis and heart failure.

Ongoing projects seek to identify novel mechanisms of MR signalling in macrophages and cardiomyocytes to generate new directions for the development of a selective MRA for cardiac fibrosis.

Projects include:

  • Identify MR dependent mechanisms in tissue macrophages that regulate inflammatory and fibrotic pathways and determine the function of novel MRA signalling in vivo in clinical studies.
  • Define MR and molecular clock interactions to provide new knowledge for MR actions in cardiomyocytes (i.e. disruption of the molecular clock as a driver for cardiac fibrosis).
  • Engineer and test novel MR modulating compounds for cardiac fibrosis and inflammation that may also have fewer side effects.
 

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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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