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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Judy de Haan and Professor Rebecca Ritchie

Research focus

This project aims to assess the protective effect of inflammasome inhibition on the development of cardiac injury in a diabetic setting.

Project summary

Diabetes increases the risk of heart failure by 2.5‐fold and accelerates its onset. Inflammation increases heart failure risk 2.5‐fold and accelerates its onset.

Diabetes is a major driver of diabetic complications including the cardiac injury associated with diabetic heart failure. Activation of the NLRP3-inflammasome leads to processing of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β and IL-18, resulting in cardiomyocyte injury and death. This project will use newly identified inhibitors of the NLRP3-inflammasome to investigate whether this approach can limit injury associated with diabetic cardiac injury. These pre-clinical studies will be performed in diabetic mouse models as well as tissue cultured cells exposed to elevated glucose. Endpoints to be investigated include cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, cardiac fibrosis, inflammation and oxidative stress. 

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

  • in vivo models of diabetes
  • cell culture of cardiomyocytes
  • RNA isolation and qRT-PCR
  • protein isolation
  • Western blotting
  • ELISA
  • histology and immunohistochemistry.

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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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