Dr. Valentina Parra: From attacks to Down syndrome

Dr. Valentina Parra: From attacks to Down syndrome

Photo: Direction of Extension and communication at the Faculty of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences, University of Chile.

Science gives us surprises every day and every moment. Therefore, the career of the researcher constantly submerged in new challenges and opportunities that bring it, increasingly, understand the origin and operation of various pathologies afflicting the world's population. In that sense, the knowledge extracted from the studies generated in all the world, becomes vital to understand how we are as a human race in hundreds of years.

Within this universe of new discoveries, both basic science and applied to play a predominant role, in which both give rise to publications of high impact, such as the work recently published by Dr. Valentina Parra, in magazine Circulation Research. The paper "the professional and his team, entitled:"Down Syndrome Critical Region Gene 1, RCAN1, Helps maintain a more mitochondrial fused network", he was selected to be part of this prestigious medium with high impact factor in its March issue.

The research of Dr. Parra, has been a true journey through several areas, which were emerging rapidly in his young, but successful academic life. Whether through its passion by the mitochondria, or due to his immersion in the world of stem cells, extracted from her laboratory knowledge were focus of interest of the University of Chile and also in the Centre of advanced studies of diseases Chronicles, ACCDiS. Both institutions where functions.

Valentina Parra is Biochemistry and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Chile, its trajectory has been decorated by important achievements, including the scholarship "Hermann Niemeyer" society of Biochemistry and the award""L´Oreal Unesco for Women in Science".

Then the interview that society of biochemistry of Chile made Dr. Valentina Parra.

How was I making your current research line?

Everything that I am developing today is derived from research I developed during my doctorate and post-doctorate studies. At this academic time, and when he was making the last year of my postdoctoral training, I began to specialize in patients with Down syndrome stem cells, which are joined to my background working in cardiac cells. The above, just thinking that these lines could converge and also enhanced.

In that sense, arises what we currently do in my lab, which is linked with both stem cells and cardiac cells, related to cardiovascular diseases. This is how I am currently dabbling in greater depth in the work of cells as models of human diseases. Under this scenario, we differentiate human towards lineages cardiovascular stem cells, transforming into cardiomyocytes, which we analyze and observe at the time.

What was addressed in the? paper published in Circulation Research?

First of all, it is important to indicate that we chose patients with Down syndrome stem cells, because they have 50% more likely to generate some kind of heart disease. In general, the majority of these patients were healthy individuals.

Facing this edge, both my team and I, we observe how these cells mitochondria are involved in different episodes of this type of pathologies, through research of processes of cellular differentiation and metabolism.

Under this scenario, in my postdoc I was working with a protein called Down syndrome critical region protein 1 (DSCR1) or also RCAN1, in the context of cardiac infarcts. In that investigation, we note that remove this protein from the equation, the mitochondria were fragmented and became smaller, which resulted in a decrease in oxidative and mitochondrial metabolism. That was that, in a model of infarction in vitro This would be much greater.

Down syndrome Critical Region Protein 1 (DSCR1 or RCAN1) in the context of infarction

We studied this protein in the context of cardiac infarcts, however, did not have more tools than the molecular to see improvements in the system. In this regard, and as had no physiological stimuli that would allow us to change the levels of our protein of interest RCAN1, it was when we agree to being protein was described how increased in Down syndrome. It was there when we got in touch with an academic who was part of the consortium of stem cells of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to which I asked if it was possible to have these stem cells to study patients who went with their mitochondria. Finally, the researcher agreed and got us the cells.

Preparation prior to the research

Along with getting us the cells, ran for a grant or the NIH project with the idea of analyzing mitochondria in cells of patients with syndrome of DownHowever, I had no more experience in the area, making it their own NIH together with awarding me the project, also gave me the possibility of making the course of stem cell in the University of Stanford.

In the days, which stretched by long 10 hours per day for a total of two weeks, I started with experiments that beyond all odds, worked pretty well. As well, and with my arrival in Chile, began to pave this line of research that has us all excited and that has transformed little by little in the core of the work in my laboratory at the University of Chile.

Source: 4ID/CONGRESS, All rights reserved. ®
Journalist:Patricio Grunert Alarcón. ®

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Quote as source a: 4ID-CONGRESS® /Patricio Grunert Alarcón, All rights reserved. ®