Diabetic heart disease occurs because of high levels of glucose and fatty acids in the blood stream, which alter the heart's energy metabolism. Healthy hearts use a mix of glucose and fatty acids to produce energy, while diabetic hearts rely almost entirely on fatty acids. As a result, diabetic hearts become larger, stiffer, and take longer to relax after each heartbeat.
This project will exploit a pre-clinical human heart organoid model developed in the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory. This model, more simply known as a ‘heart in a dish’, is derived from human stem cells and contains functioning heart muscle cells, as well as blood vessels and neurons.
'The beating heart tissues can mimic type 2 diabetes-induced heart disease when cultured in high levels of glucose and fatty acids," says Jarmon. 'We will use this to test new treatments in a human context."