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Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism Research Unit

Unit Director: Professor Frederick Raal (Derik)

The focus of the Unit’s research includes the epidemiological, clinical and Biochemical aspects of common diseases  affecting lipid, and glucose Metabolism  in the different ethnic groups of southern  Africa. These include familial hypercholesterolaemia and other dyslipidaemias, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus as well as other related metabolic disorders.

The Unit is well recognised both nationally and internationally for their work on familial hypercholesterolaemia, and has one of the largest cohorts, if not the largest cohort, of homozygous FH patients in the world. The Unit has contributed, and continues to contribute to the management of these unfortunate patients.

The Unit reported in Circulation the reduction in mortality associated with advances lipid-lowering therapy, mainly statin therapy, in the largest cohort of subjects with homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia described worldwide. This paper has been widely cited. The unit continues to research novel therapies such as antisense  apo B-100 and PCSK9-inhibitor therapy in this patient group.
The results of  such studies with Evolocumab, an inhibitor of PCSK9 given once or twice monthly by subcutaneous injection to subjects with either heterozygous or homozygous FH, were published as lead articles in the Lancet with Professor Raal as first author. Professor Raal was also co-author on two papers evaluating cardiovascular outcomes with PCSK9 inhibitor therapies published in the New England Journal of Medicine.