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Finding early biomarkers for the prevention of heart failure

Associate Professor Francine Marques, Institution: Monash University

2016 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2017-2021


Heart failure is a common progressive disease where the heart in unable to pump an adequate amount of blood. It is a common cause of death in ageing populations. After age, the most important cardiovascular risk factors for heart failure are high blood pressure and an abnormal heart enlargement. Both are considered “silent” diseases and are strong risk factors for other cardiovascular diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease. Currently, long-term stable biomarkers such as blood tests that could identify changes in the heart structure which could lead to heart failure are not available. The advantage of an accurate biomarker is that it would allow the identification of patients at risk as well as the ability to treat them more aggressively.

Over the next 4 years I will manage my own team to advance research into early detection and prevention of cardiovascular disease, divided into 3 themes:
  1. The use of a small molecule, called microRNA miR-181a, as an early biomarker and therapeutic target for high blood pressure.
  2. The development of the molecules lipocalin-2 (LCN2) and GlycA as early biomarkers for cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.
  3. Epigenetic markers associated with diet and cardiovascular health and disease. This research will also determine the role of dietary fibre and maternal fibre intake during pregnancy in the prevention of hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy and failure.

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