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In last week’s WCMR science seminar series, we heard from Dr Chun Chen about her research project investigating mitochondrial proteins in Parkinson’s Disease. This clearly demonstrates the importance of mitochondrial function in a range of different conditions and highlights the breadth of research that is done within the WCMR. Dr Chen tells us more below.

In the meeting, I shared some data generated using imaging mass cytometry (IMC). IMC is a novel imaging technology that detects proteins within cells using different heavy metals that are tagged onto specific antibodies. For my project, this allows me to get a picture of the amount of protein in brain cells.

My main research interest is using IMC to investigate the expression patterns of a group of proteins in brain cells from samples of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. These proteins are mainly involved in the production of new mitochondria, regulate the distribution of mitochondria within brain cells, and are found to be critical in the disease progression of PD. By understanding changes in these pathways, I aim to find new ways to monitor disease severity and potential therapeutic targets for PD.

In my talk, I also provided an update on my progress in generating brain cells from human pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These brain cells will be used to validate the changes we identify from the IMC study, and also as a powerful tool for PD drug screening in the future.

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