Our groundbreaking research

A simple blood test that could change the future

The ability to predict the onset of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s, could be within our reach.

With your help, we can deliver a simple blood test that could ultimately prevent these life-threatening conditions.

The Metabolomics Laboratory at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute have made a groundbreaking discovery.

They have linked abnormal changes in our lipid metabolism with the onset of metabolic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Head of Metabolomics Professor Peter Meikle explains:
 “The metabolic system is very complicated, with thousands of different lipids (fats) and metabolites. In my lab we’ve found a way to closely examine people’s lipid profile to better understand which lipids are associated with a well-functioning metabolism, and therefore lower risk of disease, and which indicate a higher risk of disease”.

Our unique approach

Our researchers use state-of-the-art equipment, and analysis of large biological data sets, to perform some of the biggest clinical and population lipidomic studies yet reported.

A process called liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry , enables our researchers to identify hundreds of lipid species from a drop of blood in just a few minutes.

Currently, clinicians typically focus on just three main lipid measures to assess disease risk — low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides.
By looking at 200 lipids instead of just three, our profiling gives us access to so much more detail.

This advanced technology provides a new and holistic picture of how changes in the levels of these small, complex molecules are linked with the onset and development of metabolic disease like Alzheimer’s.

By identifying patterns in large biological data sets that help pinpoint markers of disease, the metabolomics lab is developing a measure of ‘metabolic age’ to provide a risk score to help people better understand how well their metabolism is working.

From just a small blood sample, we will be able to provide a patient with an evaluation of their disease risk in just a couple of minutes.

It will then be possible to track how medications or lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, can help improve their metabolic age and lower their risk of disease.

Professor Peter Meikle further reveals:
“We now have the potential to identify people at high risk of developing metabolic disease, such as Alzheimer’s, before they show clinical symptoms. This is important because early detection will enable early treatment, which is the best opportunity to delay or prevent the onset of most disease.”

This incredible discovery could improve millions of lives not just in Australia, but also around the world.

What is even more encouraging, is just how close we are to seeing this research translate from the laboratory into clinical practice.

What's next?

Right now, we need to expand the study on lipids in people of all demographics, not just those who are known to be at high risk of developing the disease.

Before the test can be rolled out, the model needs to be developed further to ensure certainty of its validity.

To do this, Professor Meikle and his team need to conduct approximately 25,000 tests in the coming 12–24 months, and lipid profile test costs around $40 each.

But we urgently need to raise $120,000 to fund the first 3000 tests before the end of April 2021. 

Without this funding, our researchers fear that this lifesaving project may lose momentum.

What are lipids?

Lipids — fats in the blood — are a group of macromolecules that have a lot of functions, including storing energy, signaling between cells, and forming the cell membrane.

Currently, clinicians typically focus on just three main lipid measures to assess disease risk — low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides.

 

 

Big data

By identifying patterns in large biological data sets that help pinpoint markers of disease...