BBDC/HSRLCE Pilot and Feasibility Grant in Cardiovascular and Diabetes Research 2018

Competition Deadline Date: May 31, 2018

This funding program is made possible by the University of Toronto’s Heart & Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research (HSRLCE), the Banting & Best Diabetes Centre (BBDC), and the Vice-Dean of Research and Innovation, Faculty of Medicine.

Award Recipient Title of Research Amount
Principal Applicant: Dr. Jason Fish
Co-Applicant: Dr. Sara S. Nunes de Vasconcelos
Collaborators: Dr. David Cherney and Dr. Filio Billia
Elucidating the Pleiotropic Cardioprotective Mechanisms of Empagliflozin on Heart Failure in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus $97,420

About the Project
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes. As a result, glucose (sugar) builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy. Type 2 diabetes is treatable, but even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. That may be because people with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, usually have risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and low levels of physical activity that contribute to their risk for developing cardiovascular disease. However, diabetes on its own worsens cardiovascular disease. Over time, these risk factors in combination with diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop cardiovascular diseases. One such cardiovascular disease is heart failure, which occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow to meet the body’s needs. While all type 2 diabetes treatments try to lower blood sugar, none of them have been shown to help decrease the risk of worsening cardiovascular diseases like heart failure. A new type of drug, called empagliflozin, helps treat type 2 diabetes by increasing the ability of the kidneys to remove excess glucose from the body through urine. Empagliflozin is unique because it not only helps manage blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes but has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart failure-related cardiovascular death in adults with type 2 diabetes. While we have seen that people on empagliflozin have a lower risk of dying from heart failure, no one knows how this type of drug reduces cardiovascular risk. Our research will use a new technology to look at how gene expression (i.e. the way your genetic code effects how cells function) changes after treatment with empagliflozin. Understanding how this drug interacts with the cardiovascular system could help us better treat people with type 2 diabetes and aid those suffering from cardiovascular diseases like heart failure.