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Identifying novel drug targets in human carotid body for the future treatment of cardiorespiratory & metabolic disorders.

Located at the common carotid artery bifurcation, carotid body is the principal chemosensory organ of the body. A wealth of data has demonstrated carotid body to be involved in numerous metabolic and cardio-respiratory conditions, including hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, sleep apnoea and others. In an animal model of hypertension, the carotid body becomes hypersensitised and increases the sympathetic outflow via aberrant activation of the afferent petrosal ganglion neurons. Elevated sympathetic outflow is known to be the key contributing factor in driving neurogenic hypertension thus making the carotid body a primary target for clinical intervention. In collaboration with Prof Julian Paton (University of Auckland, NZ), Prof Helio Cesar Salgado (University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, BR) and Dr Colin Campbell (University of Bristol, UK), we use high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics approach to identify key elements contributing to the increased tonicity and reflex sensitivity of the carotid bodies in the diseased state. Using animal models and clinical samples we seek to identify potential molecular targets in the carotid body that would permit further pre-clinical studies on the safety and feasibility of the selected agents to treat human diseases in the future.

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