Dr Marie Besnier – Developing a new technique to analyse Extracellular Vesicles and their role in predicting coronary artery disease.

Dr Marie Besnier is working with Professor Gemma Figtree on the BioHEART project which aims to better understand how heart attacks are happening and who are the people at risk of having them.

The BioHEART team are driven to find new tests and “bio markers” in a patient’s blood which can pick up ‘hidden’ coronary artery disease (CAD) so they can accurately predict a person’s risk of a heart attack.

A new discovery in this area is Extracellular Vesicles (EVs). These are essentially “signals” sent out from our cells to communicate within our body that there is injury or danger. It is now known that EVs are actively secreted by CAD lesions and that their content, number, and cell-origin is correlated to the severity of the disease. Dr Marie Besnier and the team are investigating whether these blood circulating EVs, considered by many scientists as a “liquid biopsy”, can be used to differentially diagnose the presence and severity of CAD. The problem is that because of their small size and complexity, most of the current techniques used to analyse EVs are incompatible with the rapid screening needed in a clinical setting.

Ultimately, the aim of Dr Besnier’s research is to try to develop a new technique to analyse the chemical and physical properties of the EV and to develop a very practical, user-friendly tool to study them. This will aid clinicians’ treatment decisions and avoid debilitation for many patients, while at the same time give a better understanding of the contribution that EVs have in disease.


To read more about the research Heart Research Australia is funding click here.

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