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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Brian Drew and Aowen Zhuang

Project summary

Genes are a molecular instruction manual that makes each individual unique. Mutations in our genes are risk factors for the development of disease and often influence the severity of complex diseases such as cardiovascular disease. For example, a common known mutation of the BRCA gene can cause an increased risk of breast cancer.

Excitingly, recent advances in gene editing techniques have meant that we are now in an era where we can “fix” these errors in our genes, thanks largely to a new technology called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). CRISPR has provided scientists with the equivalent of DNA editing software, which allows for site-specific editing of DNA that is akin to changing the individual letters in an incorrectly spelt word, rather than attempting to replace the whole word. Prior to this discovery, the resolution at which we are able to conduct gene-editing was previously not feasible.

This project will focus on the characterisation of a recently discovered gene (called OIP5-AS1) involved in cardiovascular disease with a strong emphasis on discovering the molecular mechanisms driving this phenotype. Deletion of OIP5-AS1 has profound effects on the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart failure. Discoveries made in this project will lead into the potential for therapeutic applications of targeting this novel gene using CRISPR-based technologies.

This project is suitable for an Honours student.

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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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