The HRI’s Applied Materials Group is working to develop the next generation of bioactive materials – materials that can bond to living tissues.
It is hoped that this will provide better treatment options for people living with cardiovascular disease.
One of these projects involves looking into the use of silk (yes, from silk worm cocoons) as a material for the engineering of artificial blood vessels.
Elysse Filipe began this study as part of her PhD project, and is optimistic about where it could lead.
‘Current treatments use blood vessels harvested from the arms and legs of the patients, which are then implanted around the heart to improve coronary blood flow. However in many cases, the use of the patients own vessels is not recommended due to pre-existing vessel disease, advanced age or even because the vessels have already been used for something else. There is currently no 'off-the-shelf’ alternative for these patients. If I am able to create an artificial blood vessel in the lab, it would allow treatment for coronary artery disease without having to use the patient’s own vessels’ she adds.
Born and raised in Nevada, USA, Dr Melissa Farnham originally had no interest in research. Now Unit Leader of the High Blood Pressure Group at HRI, and balancing the challenges of family and work, she couldn’t imagine any other career path.
“A career in research really gives you a sense of purpose and drive. While it can be a long and difficult path, every day you can feel satisfied that the work you do is for the greater good. And that in itself is one of the most rewarding experiences,” says Richard Tan, PhD candidate with the Applied Materials Group at HRI.
A breakthrough by HRI scientists could soon protect tens of thousands of Australians with diabetes from killer heart disease and stroke.