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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Anna Calkin and Dr Adele Richart

This project focuses on establishing the effect of age on the heart's responses to a heart attack. This will allow us to identify novel, age-specific targets for the development of new treatments adapted to our elderly population who have had a heart attack.

Project summary

Decades of research have examined strategies to protect the heart after an heart attack (myocardial infarction, MI). In particular, anti-inflammatory strategies have been shown to improve heart function and healing of the heart in animal models. Unfortunately, these strategies have failed to show benefit in humans, and no treatments are currently available for heart recovery post-MI. This may relate to the fact that most of preclinical animal studies have been conducted on animals of a young age equivalent to teenager, whereas 90% of Australian who suffered from MI were over the age of 55. Indeed, we know that the elderly have increased risk for having a MI, and also a higher mortality rate following a MI.

Hypothesis: The aged heart responds to myocardial infarction differently than the young heart. By identifying these novel mechanisms, we will be able to develop new treatments directed at age-specific targets for elderly individuals with MI.

Approach: Using a preclinical mouse model, this project will characterise the effect of age on the inflammatory response after heart attack, by comparing old and young mice. It will determine whether inflammation in particular is associated with the poor recovery of aged mice following a MI. To do this, we will use a range of discovery approaches including large-scale analysis of >700 lipids and >2000 proteins in the hearts of young and aged mice.

Related methods, skills or technologies

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

This project is suitable for an Honours student.

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