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A search for new biomarkers and therapeutic targets in heart failure

Description 
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, my research hopes to detect telltale blood markers that indicate early heart failure and predict response to treatment. 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: https://www.monash.edu/admissions/entry-requirements/minimum
Keywords 
mineralocorticoid receptor macrophage heart failure
School 
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 
PhD/Doctorate
Masters by research
Masters by coursework
Honours
Time commitment 
Full-time
Part-time
Top-up scholarship funding available 
No
Physical location 
Baker Institute
Co-supervisors 
Dr 
Jun Yang

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