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The Thrombosis Group at the Heart Research Institute (HRI) has been awarded a $5 million Synergy grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The funding is for five years and will go towards the team’s groundbreaking research to develop innovative new treatments for stroke.

The HRI Thrombosis Group, led by Prof Shaun Jackson, works in a multidisciplinary collaborative team encompassing leading researchers from The University of Sydney’s Schools of Chemistry (Professor Richard Payne, Dr Xuyu Liu), Biomedical Engineering and Physics (Prof Marcela Bilek), and the Universities of Melbourne (Prof Bernard Yan – Neurology and RMH) and Adelaide (Dr Emma Watson – School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences).

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Australia, with the burden on the Australian healthcare system amounting to $5 billion every year.

Approximately 85 per cent of strokes are ischaemic, caused by a blood clot blocking an artery within the brain, which reduces blood flow to the brain. If not resolved within a few hours, irreversible brain damage can occur.

Despite decades of research, the only emergency drug treatment used to dissolve dangerous blood clots in ischaemic stroke are modelled on the naturally occurring clot dissolving protein tPA (Alteplase, Tenecteplase). Unfortunately, these drugs can be used for only 10 per cent of stroke victims, leaving up to 90 per cent to suffer the devastating impacts of stroke. tPA also has many limitations and does not work effectively in many stroke patients.

Building upon the discovery of several novel classes of antithrombotic compounds by the Jackson and Payne research groups, this collaborative research program will address major knowledge gaps in the acute management of stroke, utilising a multidisciplinary team with innovative methods, to comprehensively establish the most efficacious and safe approaches to restore and maintain cerebral reperfusion in preclinical stroke models with a view to translation to the clinic.

“We are grateful to have been awarded a Synergy grant and work together with colleagues from HRI and experts from leading institutions around Australia,” said Prof Jackson.

We are all excit­ed by the poten­tial of this new stroke drug and rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing cur­rent treatments.”

The Synergy Grant scheme is designed to support substantial research projects where experts from different disciplines collaborate to solve problems in any area of human health, from discovery through to translation.

The investigating team includes the following researchers.

Chief Investigators:

  • Prof Shaun Jackson, Director of Cardiovascular Research at the Charles Perkins Centre, HRI
  • Prof Richard Payne, Deputy Director of the Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science; School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney
  • Prof Marcela Bilek, ARC Laureate Fellow and Director of Applied Physics and Surface Engineering Research Group, School of Physics and School of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Sydney
  • Prof Bernard Yan, Professor of Medicine (Neurology), University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Assoc Prof Simone Schoenwaelder, Senior Research Fellow, HRI
  • Dr Xuyu Liu, Unit Leader of Cardiovascular-protective Signalling and Drug Discovery, HRI; School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Emma Watson, Lecturer, School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences, The University of Adelaide

Associate Investigators:

  • Assoc Prof Lining (Arnold) Ju, Snow Fellow and Australian Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow, School of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Jessica Maclean, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, HRI

Header image: The Thrombosis Group

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