Prof Harries has interests in -omics approaches to the study of normal physiology or on disease processes in man. Her specific focus is on the impact of alternative messenger RNA processing or small RNA gene regulation, with particular reference to diabetes and metabolism, human ageing and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
OUR LATEST RESEARCH
Type 2 Diabetes affects 415 million people world-wide and is characterised by chronic high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) and insulin resistance, progressing to insufficient insulin production. This occurs due to failure of the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. Over time, chronic hyperglycaemia can ultimately lead to the loss of beta cells, leaving patients insulin dependent. Until recently the loss of beta cells was thought to be due to increased rates of cell death (apoptosis). However, it has been recently been proposed that death of the insulin producing beta cells is not the whole story.
Age is the main risk factor for mostly all common chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases or neurodegeneration. Gradual accumulation over the life-course of senescent cells is likely to contribute to age-related disease and degeneration in humans. Although the precise mechanisms behind as yet unclear, it is known that alternative splicing is deregulated in senescent cells and in aged human population and changes in splicing factor expression have been shown in advancing age.
Our results suggest that modification of splicing factor expression has the potential to influence cell senescence phenotypes and could represent a promising target for interventions designed to improve health span in the future.