Dr Jarmon Lees

Postdoctoral Researcher, Cardiac regeneration Laboratory

Accelerating new treatments for diabetic heart disease with his unique ‘heart in a dish’ organoid

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The Problem

More than one million Australians have type 2 diabetes. Many of these people will die from heart disease, and many more will have serious heart complications. Heart disease in these people is called diabetic heart disease, and there are currently no effective treatments. 

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The Project

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."

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Dr Jarmon Lees

Dr Jarmon Lees uses his expertise in cardiovascular disease, stem cell biology and tissue engineering to deliver new therapeutic options for people faced with heart disease.  

Jarmon joined the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory in SVI’s O’Brien Department in 2018, after completing his PhD in neural cell metabolism at The University of Melbourne. His ‘heart in a dish’ is being used to model different types of heart disease and as a platform to speed up the development of new drugs. 

Learn more about Jarmon's research in this short video.