Fitgenes Australia is involved in a number of research initiatives directly and through its 100% owned subsidiary, Gordiantec Pty Ltd.
GordianTec was established to commercialise work developed by Professor Grant Morahan and his team at The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia. GordianTec’s focus is developing genetic tests for disease subtypes and genetic risk of disease. It was acquired by Fitgenes to develop the technology further, to support genetic management of health and wellness.
CVD causes an unparalleled burden on global health and high costs of medical care. Currently, preventive measures are a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Although these can reduce risk by between 30% and 60%, large groups of people not needing interventions are treated and a significant proportion of people at high risk go unidentified. Perhaps it is not surprising that conventional management approaches still leave CVD remaining as one of the leading causes of death throughout the world.
Currently, identification of risk is based on various clinical parameters that indicate that processes leading to CVD are already underway. Traditionally, family history has been a guide to risk status, with hypertension identified as a major risk factor for CVD. CVD risk scores are calculated using known risks factors such as age, sex, blood pressure, cholesterol markers, smoking and diabetic status - for example, the Australian absolute cardiovascular disease risk calculator (National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance), and the Framingham Heart Study 10 Year Risk calculator (NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Risk Assessment Tool).
GordianTec has identified a genetic signature that has the ability to predict a person’s risk of having a cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, which is superior to the current clinical parameters measured by the medical profession.
GordianTec is also working to develop a test that can recognise genetically different subtypes of type 2 diabetes. This has resulted in identification of a genetic signature of diabetic patients with a much higher incidence of heart disease and where ~50% are more likely to die or be hospitalised with myocardial infarction.
Grant Morahan is the inaugural Professor of Diabetes Research at the University of Western Australia. He has made significant contributions to knowledge in three different fields: immunology (both molecular immunology and cellular immunology); genetics; and Type 1 diabetes. He has published over 200 research papers, including several seminal contributions in the highest impact journals (Nature, Science, Lancet, Nature Genetics, PNAS) and is the only Australian scientist with first author papers in all of these journals.
In recognition of his contributions to the genetics of Type 1 diabetes, he was invited by the US NIH to join the Steering Committee of the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium, where he served for 10 years. In this role, he was a PI on two NIH Projects, and led the Asia-Pacific T1D Genetics Network, recruiting families affected by Type 1 diabetes. He has been invited to participate in discussions on the current National Diabetes Strategy.
He is a founding member of the Complex Trait Consortium of geneticists and coined the term “systems genetics” for the field of integrating transcriptome- and phenome- wide characteristics with underlying genetic variation. He was invited as the “foreign expert” to the European Union’s COST Action SYSGENET Consortium, which expanded current research in the field of systems genetics. He also was invited to join as a PI on two EU Horizon 2020 Programs in distinct fields, namely systems genetics of cardiovascular disease and glycomic analyses of various diseases.
He is a Visiting Professor to China’s premier medical school, Peking Union Medical College. Other recognition of his contribution is evident from many invitations to speak at national and international conferences, including rarities for an Australian scientist: invitations to lecture at such places as King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and ILAS/Peking Union Medical College, Beijing.
In the last five years, his group has developed the genetic technology for definition of disease subtypes and prediction of high risk individuals.