The aim of this project is to breed genetically altered mice for use in our research into cardiometabolic disease – the range of heart and circulatory diseases which commonly occur in people with diabetes. This represents a continuation of research by our group over the last 15 years.
Cardiometabolic diseases include heart attacks, strokes, peripheral arterial disease and heart failure. Not only are people with diabetes two-to-three times more likely to develop these diseases, the conditions are more difficult to treat, cause more severe symptoms and are associated with worse outcomes. For example, a middle-aged person with diabetes who suffers a heart attack has a life expectancy 15 years shorter than a person of the same age without those conditions. Heart and circulatory diseases represent the most common cause of death in individuals with diabetes. It is particularly important to find better strategies for prevention and treatment now, as the number of people worldwide with diabetes is predicted to increase dramatically over the next 10 to 15 years.
Plan of work and impact of our studies
This project focuses on breeding up to 12,000 genetically altered mice, which are ideally suited to study the molecular causes of disease. Thousands of different gene alterations have already been created in laboratory mice and these are available to researchers to study the involvement of genes in development of many diseases. We have created breeding colonies of mice with alterations of specific genes affecting susceptibility to diabetes and heart disease. We will use mice bred under this project for our research in this area. Our intention is to better understand the reasons by which diabetes causes heart and circulatory disorders, so that we can discover new ways of preventing, monitoring and treating them. The research in which the mice will be used is described separately in two separate projects which focus on ‘Diabetes and Blood Vessels ‘and ‘Diabetes and the Heart’.
Genetic alterations in this project are employed as a tool to investigate the molecular pathways linking diabetes with heart disease. They are not themselves expected to cause any overt adverse effects in the animals. Breeding takes place by conventional mating and is carried out in a high health-status facility with strict attention to animal welfare using optimal husbandry practices. Mice bred in this project will have a small snip taken from the ear for identification purposes and for checking their genetic status.