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Dr Ashish Misra has received a 2022 Diabetes Australia research grant for his new project to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms linking diabetes with atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the main underlying cause of cardiovascular disease. In atherosclerosis, plaque builds on the walls of arteries and can cause narrowing of the arteries, reduced blood flow to the heart (coronary artery disease) and unstable atherosclerotic plaque, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Up to 70 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes develop atherosclerosis.

In diabetes, patients are less responsive to treatment with conventional atherosclerosis drugs such as statins and fenobirate. They thus have a higher chance of plaque build-up and plaque rupture compared to non-diabetic atherosclerotic patients.

“We see greater plaque inflammation, greater plaque burden and increased infiltration of inflammatory immune cells (macrophages) with diabetes. Once my team and I understand the processes of atherosclerosis in diabetics, we can share our findings with the greater science community to underpin new medical treatment. Unfortunately, only surgical treatment is available as an option currently, and this needs to change,” says Dr Misra, leader of the Atherosclerosis and Vascular Remodelling Group at the Heart Research Institute.

No current therapies are designed to target the more aggressive atherosclerotic disease in diabetic patients. This is largely because the specific differences in the cellular composition of plaques in diabetic and non-diabetic patients is not yet known. To develop more effective and targeted approaches to manage cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients, a better understanding of cellular events causing cell migration, proliferation and differentiation into inflamed macrophage-like cells is necessary.

There is an urgent need to dis­cov­er non-sur­gi­cal treat­ment options, as dia­betes is the fastest grow­ing chron­ic con­di­tion in Aus­tralia and has been coined the epi­dem­ic of the 21st cen­tu­ry’,” says Dr Misra.

A grant of $70,000 was awarded to Dr Misra through the 2022 Diabetes Australia Research Program, facilitated by Diabetes Australia to non-profit organisations concerned with the promotion of health care, education and/or medical research in the area of diabetes. Dr Misra’s project will run for approximately one year.

Header image: Dr Ashish Misra

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