New pathways regulating lipids and lipid-induced disease

Years funded:
2014 - 2018

Increased levels of fat (triglyceride; TG) and cholesterol in the blood are associated with increased risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease. It can be caused by excess dietary intake, genetics or diabetes.

Excess TGs in the blood are deposited in tissues such as the heart and skeletal muscle where they can have damaging effects. This can result in a reduced ability of the heart to cope with a heart attack. In skeletal muscle this can lead to insulin resistance, increasing the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. More than one in five Australians are estimated to have increased TG levels, therefore new therapies are required to address the associated damaging effects.

Dr Anna Calkin will examine whether a recently identified protein, IDOL, can reduce accumulation of TGs in the heart and skeletal muscle, thereby improving heart function and protecting against insulin resistance.

Its also estimated that 1.5 million Australians have high cholesterol levels. Despite current therapies effectively reducing cholesterol levels, some individuals experience unwanted side effects. In addition, current therapies do not lower cholesterol levels sufficiently for a high percentage of individuals. Using laboratory models, Anna will determine new regulators of cholesterol metabolism by linking genetic differences to changes in cholesterol regulation. These findings will be confirmed in human liver samples. Ultimately, Dr Calkin hopes this work will lead to the identification of new targets for treating high cholesterol levels.

Researcher Profile

Dr Anna Calkin

Institute: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
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