Promoting mitochondrial biogenesis

In this week’s WCMR ‘Research in Progress’ meeting, we heard from Dr Viviana De Luca. The purpose of her research project is to identify and characterise natural compounds that promote the production of new mitochondria within cells, a process known as ‘mitochondrial biogenesis’. Here, Viviana tells us more.

The purpose of the project I am involved in is to produce, purify and identify bioactive natural compounds that can promote mitochondrial biogenesis. This is important as it could lead to improvements in mitochondrial function and new potential therapies for mitochondrial disease.

The project, headed by Dr Oliver Russell, is in collaboration with companies based in the UK and internationally. Using the high-throughput imaging facility within Newcastle University, we have been able to screen thousands of compounds belonging to DEMURIS Ltd and have found some interesting active compounds that we are going to purify and identify.

Briefly, the extracts produced by Streptomyces strains belonging to the DEMURIS strains library have been analyzed by a combined high-throughput screening method and fluorescent cell sorting. The strains that have been identified as producing active molecules are selected and a large-scale fermentation is carried out to in order to purify and identify the active molecule through mass spectrometry.

We hope these natural compounds will be used to treat patients with mitochondrial disease in the future.