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Using CRISPR to prevent diet-induced obesity

Garvan Institute of Medical Research

  • RNA Future Leaders Program
Date Funded:
  • 3 August, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Robert Weatheritt

Project Summary

Using the latest advances in RNA technology to develop targeted drugs to fight obesity.

The main researcher for this project is Dr. Robert Weatheritt.

What is the issue for NSW?

Globally, the number of individuals with obesity has tripled since the 1970s. Australia has not escaped the obesity epidemic with over 60% of Australians overweight or obese. Most concerningly, over 20% of NSW children are overweight or obese. These levels of obesity represent a major health risk within NSW contributing to increased rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Obesity therefore represents a major contributor to premature mortality in Australia.

While exercise and healthy eating represent essential weapons in the fight against obesity, the increasing rates of obesity suggest therapeutic supplementation of these weapons would be highly beneficial for health outcomes. This project aims to take advantage of the recent revolution in RNA therapeutics to develop new drugs against obesity. In addition, this project will train the new generation of RNA biologists to provide NSW with the required expertise for its burgeoning biotech industry to blossom.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This project will use state-of-the-art approaches combining the most advanced CRISPR gene editing approaches with our ability to quantify changes at the single cell level. This will enable us to identify new targets in the fight against obesity.

We will validate these targets in human patient samples, as well as demonstrate the precision targeting of this cutting-edge RNA technology. Together, this will maximise our chances of successful conversion of this technology into human therapies within the next five years.