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Archive - Nov 14, 2018

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Number of EVs from RBCs and Expression of Eight Different Proteins in Those EVs May Be Biomarker for Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

A new blood-based analysis that evaluates the levels and content of tiny vesicles released by red blood cells may help diagnose patients with Parkinson’s disease according to disease stage, researchers suggest. The new method was described in the study, “Portrait of Blood-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease,” published online on November 5, 2018 in Neurobiology of Disease. Parkinson’s disease is linked to a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations and several molecular mechanisms. This represents a challenge for the development and identification of useful biomarkers for diagnosis and disease progression, as well as to track the effectiveness of new treatments. All human cells produce tiny vesicles that can contain fatty molecules, proteins, and genetic information, which they release to the surrounding environment. These so-called extracellular vesicles (EVs) are produced both in healthy states and disease conditions, and are used by cells to communicate among themselves. Given the major role these EVs may have, researchers hypothesized that their cargo could hold useful information on the biological state of the body, representing a possible new diagnostic tool. To this end, Canadian researchers developed a new method of isolating EVs from blood samples that would preserve the EVs’ integrity, while still removing any potential contaminants. Using flow cytometry, a technique that allows the visualization and sorting of cells and small particles according to their size and shape, the team could identify not only EVs, but also which cells they originatd from. After the EVs were isolated, the team could analyze their content. Following the assay’s optimization, the team analyzed blood samples collected from 60 Parkinson’s patients and 37 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers.

2018 Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science Goes to Yale’s Pioneering Woman Biochemist Joan Steitz for Leadership in RNA Biology & Scientific Mentorship, Especially for Women

The 2018 Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science honors an individual whose lifetime contributions have engendered among her colleagues the deepest feelings of awe and respect. For four decades, Joan Argetsinger Steitz (Yale University) has provided leadership in biomedical science. She has made pioneering discoveries about RNA biology, generously mentored budding scientists, and vigorously and passionately supported women in science. She has generated a cascade of discoveries that have illuminated wide-ranging and unanticipated functions for RNA molecules within our cells, and has served as a role model in multiple ways, especially for rising female investigators. Dr. Steitz has campaigned for full inclusion of all members of the scientific community, fueled by the conviction that reaching this goal is necessary to ensure a robust and innovative scientific enterprise. When Steitz encountered the molecular basis of genetics in the early 1960s as an undergraduate lab technician, she was enchanted, but despite her passion and curiosity, she could not envision a future for herself as an academic researcher. The absence of female biology professors shrouded that potential career path. She did know that women could be physicians, so she decided to become a doctor. The summer before medical school, Steitz joined the lab of Joseph Gall (Albert Lasker Special Achievement Award in Medical Science, 2006), where she undertook her first independent project. Thrilled by the joy of discovery and the challenges of steering her own experiments, she could no longer resist the draw of research.