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Associate Professor Peter Psaltis

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Associate Professor Peter Psaltis

How do local stem cells cause our arteries to harden and what can we do about it?

Associate Professor Peter Psaltis, University of Adelaide

2022 Future Leader Fellowship - Level 3

Years funded: 2023-2026

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fatty plaques inside the body’s arteries. As the main cause of heart attack, it is the leading cause of death worldwide. We need to better understand how atherosclerosis occurs to improve the ways we treat it. An important but poorly understood aspect of atherosclerosis involves changes in the outer layer of the artery wall, that involve inflammatory cells and tiny blood vessels that feed the growth of plaques. In a world-first, I have discovered “stem cells” nestled in this outer layer that originate from early embryonic life. This project will study what happens to these stem cells in different stages of atherosclerosis and how they contribute to plaque development and its complications. I will also analyse the genes that these stem cells express in atherosclerotic arteries to find ways to target them to stop plaques from growing. The outcomes from this work could change the way we think about atherosclerosis and pave the way for new treatments to improve health for people with heart disease.

Last updated17 January 2023