Using Zebrafish to investigate heart disease by Prof Diane Fatkin


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Professor Diane Fatkin is a molecular cardiologist and Head of the Inherited Heart Diseases Laboratory at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Her research interests include  familial forms of  dilated cardiomyopathy  and atrial fibrillation.   

In a recent ongoing study, an established zebrafish model was used to investigate whether individuals with a genetic predisposition to heart disease have an increased risk of developing DOX-induced heart dysfunction.

Doxorubicin (DOX) is a highly effective anti-cancer drug, which can have serious cardiac side effects in some treated patients and reduces long-term survival.  Mutations in the titin gene are an important cause of dilated cardiomyopathy and occur in 1 in 200 people in the general population. 

The support provided by St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation has been instrumental in getting this study up and running. 

“Interestingly, we found that DOX treatment depressed the heart’s contraction to a similar extent in zebrafish with a normal genetic background and in fish that carried a titin gene mutation. Although we have not as yet looked at long term outcomes, these findings suggest that monitoring for cardiac dysfunction following DOX treatment is needed for all patients, irrespective of their genetic makeup.”