The molecular basis of cardio-metabolic disease

Diabetes leads to a two to three fold increase in the risk of heart and circulatory diseases. In most people with the commonest form (type 2), diabetes is caused by resistance to the effects of insulin in the body.

In this project we are investigating the genes and proteins which are involved in the action of insulin and related hormones to determine how they contribute to diseases of the heart and circulation.

The project follows on from previous research by our group which has led to important discoveries on the links between insulin resistance and blood vessel function. We can do much of this work in cultured cells but to understand complex diseases we need to study these in animals to mimic what happens in humans. We are using genetically modified mice in which genes related to insulin resistance are switched on or off to look at the effects on the blood vessels and circulation.  In some cases mice will undergo surgery to mimic diseases similar to those seen in humans (for example heart attacks, aneurysms, blood vessel damage). All animals receive anaesthesia during surgery and pain relief afterwards to minimise discomfort. We use sophisticated imaging equipment to acquire as much information as possible over time and reduce the number of animals required.

We anticipate that this project will uncover new targets which can be used to design future treatments for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Non-technical summary 

Read the molecular basis of cardio-metabolic disease non-technical summary (PDF).

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