Protecting the heart

Heart disease is one of the leading health issues faced by people with diabetes. However, researchers believe that high density lipoproteins (HDL), sometimes referred to as good cholesterol, could help protect the heart.

Dr Joanne Tan from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute is looking at whether HDL can help with angiogenesis, the process of forming new blood vessels from pre-existing blood vessels.

“Diabetes can lead to impaired angiogenesis. That means the body’s capacity to create new blood vessels, and increase blood supply, is not working as it should,” Dr Tan said.

“We’ve previously shown that HDL can help repair impaired angiogenesis now we are trying to understand how that happens.

“Thanks to the grant from Diabetes Australia we will be investigating whether miRNAs, small molecules involved in the signaling process, affects how HDL helps the body respond to impaired angiogenesis.

“We hope this could lead to a new gene therapy which may help reduce the risk of heart disease in some people with diabetes.”