On Wednesday 26 June 2019, Professor Kieran Clarke delivered the annual "William C. Stanley" Award Lecture entitled Exogenus ketones for the Heart? at the 17th Annual Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism Conference in Amsterdam. The Lecture is delivered each year in honour of William C. Stanley, the founding father of the SHVM, who passed away in 2013. The theme of this year's conference was targeting metabolic pathways to treat cardiovascular diseases.
In the past few years, a number of human and animal studies have suggested that an increase in ketone metabolism may benefit the failing heart. In her talk, Professor Clarke discussed the ketone bodies, d-β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate, which are not found in large amounts in the human diet, but are produced in the liver from free fatty acids as an alternative energy supply for the brain, heart and skeletal muscle, in response to low blood glucose and insulin levels caused by fasting or a ketogenic diet.
In 2003, Professor Clarke and her team invented a new food group based on ketone metabolism, a ketone ester that they called ΔG®. As the ester is broken down slowly in the gut, it directly raises circulating d-β-hydroxybutyrate levels, overcoming the need for fasting or a ketogenic diet. A single ΔG® drink can raise circulating ketone levels to those found after several days of fasting or a ketogenic diet, and levels remain elevated for several hours following a drink. Professor Clarke's team have run many human studies of ΔG®. Their study in patients with type 2 diabetes found that three ΔG® drinks a day for five days normalised fast blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Her lecture also outlined the story of how ΔG® developed to the point at which they have scaled up production to many tons for sale in the US.
Earlier in the conference, on Tuesday 25 June, Matthew Kerr, BHF DPhil student in the Heather Group, was awarded the William C. Stanley Early Investigator Award, which is given in honour of the founder's priority towards the support and mentoring of early investigators. Matthew delivered a talk entitled Energetic dysfunction in the type 2 diabetic myocardium is rescued by the deacetylase activator honokiol.
Earlier that day, Matthew's supervisor, Associate Professor Lisa Heather took part in a session tackling metabolic targets to combat cardiac IR injury, delivering a talk entitled Targeting metabolism to reduce cardiac IR injury in diabetes.