Nanobiopsy: A Tool for Mitochondrial Research

In a recent WCMR Science Seminar, we heard from final year PhD student Alex Bury about his research project that involves the development of a new nanbiopsy technology that allows mitochondria to be extracted from live cells.  Here Alex tells us more.

Mitochondria contain multiple copies of their own mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and in healthy individuals all of these copies are identical. Over time, different insults can cause changes in the mtDNA to occur. Low levels of these mtDNA variants are well tolerated but when a threshold level is exceeded, this can lead to impaired cellular metabolism, cell death and ultimately disease. We have some idea about how this might happen but we do not have the tools to investigate the exact mechanism. Understanding this mechanism will be invaluable in helping us better understand and potentially treat mitochondrial disease.

I have developed a new nanobiopsy  technology that utilises a tiny glass needle that works like a “cookie cutter”  to extract mitochondria  from subcellular compartments. In the context of my PhD project, I have successfully performed nanobiopsy to sample mitochondria from skeletal muscle tissue and performed genomic analyses on mtDNA of sampled mitochondria taken from different subcellular regions of a muscle fibre. Going forward nanobiopsy can be used to better understand subcellular mechanisms associated with mitochondrial disease and dysfunction.

To find out more about nanobiopsy technology, click here.

Alex is a MRC DiMeN funded student.