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A search for new biomarkers and therapeutic targets in heart failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle weakens and is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It is a major public health issue, affecting 30,000 patients each year in Australia. Recent research shows that the hormones aldosterone and cortisol may play a key role in heart muscle deterioration by activating the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). Patients with high blood pressure caused by primary aldosteronism (PA) have excessive aldosterone in their blood and are particularly at risk of heart failure. Drugs which block the MR will block the effect of these hormones, and therefore improve heart failure. However, these drugs can cause salt imbalance in the blood because they also block MR in the kidney which is important for salt handling. In addition, treatment for heart failure is often delayed as early heart failure is difficult to diagnose with non-specific symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath. There isn’t a simple blood test to diagnose heart failure. By studying circulating blood cells in patients with heart failure or PA before and after they are treated with MR blockers, this project seeks to detect telltale blood markers that indicate early heart failure and predict response to treatment. The lab has also identified an new candidate signalling molecule that can be assessed in a range of experimental models to determine it role in the control of cardiac inflammation and fibrosis. These markers may also be suitable therapeutic targets for new heart failure drugs which do not cause kidney-related side effects. This project will involve working with primary cells, cell lines, RT PCR, FACS and bioinformatic tools.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
mineralocorticoid receptor macrophage heart failure
Baker Institute
Central Clinical School » Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health / Hudson Institute of Medical Research » Medicine - Monash Medical Centre
Biomedicine Discovery Institute (School of Biomedical Sciences) » Physiology
Available options 
Masters by research
Masters by coursework
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Commercial Rd, Prahran.
Jun Yang

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