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Important work to protect people with diabetes from heart disease has been awarded a $2.28m funding boost from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The Heart Research Institute (HRI) in Sydney has been recognised amongst Australia’s leading research organisations in the latest round of government grants announced by Federal Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP.

Professor Shaun Jackson, Director of Cardiovascular Research at HRI, has been given an Investigator Grant to further a project to develop safer and more effective blood clotting treatments for people with diabetes. “With the support of this grant, our research team can extend its work seeking out new ways to help Australians living with diabetes to more effectively treat cardiovascular disease” Professor Jackson says. “This is a very real, life-threatening problem in the modern world, and one that we’re set on solving.”

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes, primarily due to people developing blood clots supplying the heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke). Diabetic individuals are more prone to develop blood clots, and these clots are more resistant to standard therapies.

Professor Jackson and his research team in the HRI’s Thrombosis Group are working to target the problem, discovering a new biomechanical clotting mechanism which is controlled by the forces imparted by blood flow. This pathway is altered in diabetes and resistant to the beneficial effects of common blood thinners. Work is underway in the laboratory to identify how high blood sugar levels can enhance this new clotting mechanism. They are also investigating the role of oxidative stress in amplifying blood clotting in diabetes.

These studies may identify novel targets with which to treat thrombosis associated with diabetes. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to be able to get on with this important work and make a real difference in people’s lives”, Professor Jackson explains.

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