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Investigating new therapeutic strategies for heart failure

Dr Brian Drew, Institution: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

2017 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2018-2021

Heart failure (HF) is characterised by progressive weakening of the heart muscle, resulting in ineffective pumping of blood to the body. This is a serious condition that leads to lung congestion, oedema, poor circulation and eventually death.

Prevalence of HF continues to increase and although current drugs aid in HF management; the long-term prognosis is unfortunately poor with death usually occurring in <5 years of diagnosis.

These poor outcomes are likely due to the fact that most current drugs work to reduce HF symptoms, rather than addressing the underlying cause. Therefore, the development of drugs that directly target the underlying causes of HF may have therapeutic benefit.

This study will investigate the therapeutic potential of targeting two mechanisms recently implicated in HF.
  1. lncRNAs: these molecules have recently emerged as exciting targets in treating many diseases, including HF. Indeed, recent studies have demonstrated that increasing particular lncRNAs in the heart, had protective effects against HF.Dr Brian Drew will investigate a unique lncRNA discovered in his laboratory for its potential to be protective against HF.
  2. Mitochondrial Dysfunction (MD): Mitochondria are the cells power house, and are therefore critical to heart function. Inefficient mitochondrial function, or MD, is a hallmark feature of HF. Dr Drew will utilise several cutting-edge technologies to target MD specifically in the heart, to determine if this is protective against HF.

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