Setting the PACE – Primary Aldosteronism research boost

By Rob Clancy, staff writer. Reviewed by Associate Professor Jun Yang

Professor Peter Fuller and Associate Professor Jun Yang specialise in Primary Aldosteronism research at Hudson Institute
L-R: Professor Peter Fuller, Associate Professor Jun Yang

A hidden cause of disease for more than half a million Australians – and the researchers pioneering its detection and treatment – have been recognised in a big way, with Hudson Institute to be home to the new NHMRC Primary Aldosteronism Centre of Excellence (PACE).

PA Facts

  • Primary Aldosteronism (PA), or Conn Syndrome, is the most commonly under-diagnosed cause of high blood pressure affecting millions of people.
  • PA is a form of high blood pressure caused by overactive adrenal glands that make too much aldosterone, a salt-retaining hormone, which leads to high blood pressure as well as heart and kidney damage.
  • One in 10 patients with hypertension have PA but it is often misdiagnosed as conventional hypertension – less than one in 100 patients are diagnosed correctly. As a result, patients are given the wrong treatment and suffer preventable heart disease or stroke.
  • Correctly diagnosed, PA and the consequent hypertension can be treated or cured with surgery.

Primary Aldosteronism (PA) is a form of hypertension (high blood pressure) caused by overactive adrenal glands that make too much aldosterone, a salt-retaining hormone; research at Hudson Institute has shown that it is the cause of around one in 10 cases of hypertension.

Head of the Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism at Hudson Institute and the Endocrinology Unit at Monash Health, Professor Peter Fuller, will establish the NHMRC Primary Aldosteronism Centre of Excellence (PACE).

He will work alongside Associate Professor Jun Yang, who has spent ten years working with patients with PA in the clinic, researching the condition at Hudson Institute and Monash Health and bringing it to the attention of the medical profession.

PA usually goes undiagnosed, often for many years, and hypertension caused by PA does not respond to the usual treatments, leaving sufferers prone to heart and kidney damage, among a range of other ailments.

Game-changer for hypertensive patients

“We aim to revolutionise the diagnosis and management of hypertensive patients, improve health outcomes by reducing the burden of hypertension and chronic disease, build enduring research and training capacity, and cement Australia’s position as a world leader in tackling this public health challenge.” Prof Fuller

Prof Fuller said the backing of the NHMRC with this level of funding will be a global game changer for PA research.

“PACE will be perfectly placed to rapidly expand research activities, generate new knowledge and lead the way internationally in developing and implementing guidelines, policies and education platforms to enable change,” he said.

“It will harness and synergise national expertise by bringing together an outstanding team of internationally recognised researchers and clinicians who can drive innovation and change, to tackle all of the key challenges.

Improving health outcomes for Primary Aldosteronism

A/Prof Yang said PACE will generate and drive evidence into practice to increase the detection of PA and improve health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of Australians.

“For people living with PA that means the medical community will be better informed about this condition, enabling them to diagnose it sooner and offer the most advanced treatment,” she said.

A/Prof Yang who is also a consultant endocrinologist at Monash Health and Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at Monash University will be part of a national team receiving $2.5 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council to support PACE over the next five years.

Their aim is to optimise the diagnosis and management of this common, potentially curable but neglected cause of hypertension, and help prepare the hospital system for an expected influx of PA cases.

PACE is a large collaborative initiative involving Hudson Institute, Monash Health, Monash University, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Barwon Health, Curtin University, University of Western Australia and Menzies School of Health.

Hudson Institute of Medical Research is located in the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP), a major scientific research and medical innovation powerhouse in Melbourne’s south-eastern corridor. With our precinct partners Monash Health, Victoria’s largest health service, and Monash University, Australia’s largest University, we are a global leader in medical research, healthcare, new technologies and education.

This research was supported by | NHMRC

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