Liver disease is a significant burden on society and claims more than 7,000 Australian lives each year. Disturbed iron metabolism is associated with many disorders and diseases; the liver plays a central role in the regulation of iron in the body. These two inter‐related research themes are the focus of research in the Hepatogenomics Research Group with the aim to advance our understanding of these disorders at a molecular level with the ultimate objective of the development of diagnostics and therapeutic interventions to improve patient survival rates and quality of life.
Research in our group is aimed at understanding these liver diseases by defining the molecules and mechanisms that facilitate liver injury and iron‐related disease. The liver is the largest solid internal organ in the body, and it plays a central role in maintaining health through detoxification, digestion, the making of many essential proteins, and metabolism of fat. It is also a storage organ and stores many nutrients including vitamins, iron, and other minerals, fat, and glucose and it is not a surprise that liver dysfunction is associated with many diseases.
Projects which focus on understanding and treating liver injury are aimed at identifying novel compounds to treat disease, functional genomics, and characterisation of micro-RNAs and signalling intermediates and developing organoids/3D in vitro models to study disease.
Several projects in the laboratory also focus on understanding the genes involved in iron regulation and their molecular and cellular characterisation, identifying variants associated with a genetic disease and defining how the liver and several liver-expressed molecules regulate the absorption, recycling, and distribution of iron in the body.
The identification of the molecules involved in iron homeostasis and defining the way they work has major implications for iron-related disorders such as hereditary haemochromatosis, anaemia, many cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases.