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Novel ‘mechano-medicine’

Heart Research Institute & University of Sydney

  • Cardiovascular Early-Mid Career Researcher Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 22 May, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Lining (Arnold) Ju

Project summary

Combating deadly sticky blood clots in diabetes.

What is the issue for NSW?

Diabetes has become one of the major healthcare challenges of the 21st century and a leading cause of clotting diseases such as heart attack and stroke worldwide in which blood flows are obstructed. Unfortunately, the existing anti-clotting drugs are not ideal, with less than 1 in 6 patients with diabetes taking these therapies avoiding a fatal thrombotic event.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This research aims to identify more effective approaches. It will elucidate a novel biomechanical mechanism that associates with mechanical force generated by dynamic blood flow and leads to enhanced blood clotting in diabetes. This field of work is called ‘mechanobiology’ and involves the application of engineering principles at the molecular and cellular scale.

Dr Ju has established the innovative 4Ms approach: Mechanics, Microscopy, Microfabrication & Mouse mode. This approach brings together the fields of biomechanical engineering, imaging, microfluidics and molecular biology. In particular, Dr Ju has developed a state-of-the-art pico-force (10-12 Newton) nanotool called Biomembrane Force Probe (BFP) which is the first of its kind in Australia, capable of correlating the mechanical stimulation profile with real-time cellular responses of a single blood clotting cell, or platelet.

The expected outcome will explain the reduced efficacy of current anti-clotting drugs in individuals with diabetes, which does not take the ‘haemodynamic force factors’ into account. Moreover, it will provide an innovative therapeutic strategy to reduce the sticky blood clots of diabetes.

This project will take place in USYD’s newly launched research hub for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Dr Ju’s team brings together clinicians and scientists from the School of Biomedical Engineering (BME), the Heart Research Institute (HRI), and Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) at the University of Sydney.

The timing of this capacity building grant aligns well with the development of Dr Ju’s independent lab space at the new Engineering & Technology Precinct of the University of Sydney. The funding will enable Dr Ju to build his own bioengineering team to apply the 4Ms approach to make ground-breaking cardiovascular discoveries that could revolutionise anti-thrombotic strategies.