Research fellow begins fenofibrate study

20 August 2010

Dr Linda Hoffmann
Dr Linda Hoffmann

A medical researcher from Germany has won a fellowship at Sydney to work on a project that looks into the drug fenofibrate's remarkable success in treating diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Clinical trials have shown that fenofibrate, a commonly available drug,drastically reduces the need for laser eye surgery and lower limb amputations in patients with Type 2 diabetes, and is also beneficial when used by cardiovascular patients.

The drug's effectiveness is being investigated by postdoctoral researcher Linda Hoffmann, who has started work at the University after being awarded a Feodor Lynen Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

She will be working with Professor Roland Stocker, the Chair of Biochemistry in Vascular Medicine, and Professor Antony Keech, Deputy Director of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre.

Dr Hoffmann studied biology at Bochum and gained an MSc in biomedicine at Mainz, investigating a mutation in a protein which can lead to the development of myeloproliferative disorders.

"During my studies the importance of investigating diseases as well as drug actions became the focus of my scientific work,"she said.

"I decided to apply to Bayer Schering Pharma AG in Wuppertal for a PhD scholarship and luckily my supervisor gave me the opportunity to work in his lab. The enzyme soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) was the focus of my doctoral thesis and I investigated the activation of haem-free sGC, a special form of sGC, and used a new compound which is considered a promising new option for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases."

She applied for a von Humboldt fellowship after meeting Professor Stocker at a conference in Germany.

"Iaimto investigate if fenofibrate -a lipid-lowering drug -ameliorates microvascular disease in a model of early Type 2 diabetes mellitus via induction of the protective protein heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), and whether it increases HO-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in humans suffering from cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes."

Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis are major causes of death in Western societies, and there is much interest in the development of new drug treatments.

Clinical trials of fenofibrate have been carried out by a team led by Professor Tony Keech at the University's NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre. The five-year study involved 10,000 patients in Australia, New Zealand and Finland.

The Feodor Lynen Program enables young scientists from Germany to carry out research all around the world. The selected fellows perform research in a project of their own choice in cooperation with their host. Sydney is providing scientific advice and facilities, and part of the funding.

Dr Hoffmann said: "Iamhappy to have the opportunity to work on this very interesting project at Sydney in such a friendly and stimulating work group."

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

Email: 3d2f545c0720225e0902473a5b27151c29140d0f6955341f67232c