Dr Jacky Loa – Vascular Surgeon RPA and IAS Vascular Research Lead
The Sydney Heart Bank is a well-established biobank that procures aortic and valvular tissues. It is a joint collaboration between The Baird Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney. With the expansion of the biobank to include vascular surgical tissues, the Sydney Heart Bank would be one of only a handful of biobanks established in the world that would include arterial tissues from the head down to the feet. This would provide a comprehensive understanding of disease processes starting from the heart and their similarities throughout the whole body.
A major area of interest with this new expansion would include the carotid artery. The carotid artery is the main blood vessel to the brain and can develop atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the arteries). If the carotid artery becomes narrowed, this may eject plaque into the brain and cause a stroke. Research into the carotid artery aims to understand if there are similarities between the atherosclerotic process that occurs in the heart and the brain. The hope is this research would lead to the prevention of strokes.
Another area of interest with the new expansion would include research into the femoral artery. The femoral artery is the main blood supply to the leg and atherosclerosis and narrowing of this artery lead to decreased blood supply to the leg and ultimately amputations. Research into this area would also look for similarities of the atherosclerotic process within this region and the rest of the body. The aim is to find therapeutic targets in this area and prevent amputations in the future.
The vascular surgical unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is excited to contribute to the Sydney Heart Bank and help facilitate world leading research.