The research interests of my lab focus on the role of mitochondria in pathological conditions. Mitochondria are amazing organelles that we inherited from prokaryotic cells about a couple billion years ago. Since then, they have lived in the great eukaryotic house, helping us breathe and paying for the accommodation with the universal biological currency, ATP. They are also a major source of generating reactive oxygen species (ROS), which play a regulatory role in the process of life and programmed cell death.
As we age, mitochondrial function declines, they gradually lose their respiratory activity, and damage accumulates in their mitochondrial genome. Similarly, our organs deteriorate differently over time, so for the same chronological age, the biological age of mitochondria in them is also different, which manifests itself in a different set of mitochondrial dysfunctions (MDF). MDF influence a wide range of human pathologies, including cancer, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Understanding how this puzzle works in the context of the living organism is an ongoing challenge of our research, conducted on several fronts:
1. Studying the effects of MDF-inducing drugs on a specific subpopulation of cancer resistant and cancer stem cells as part of anti-cancer therapy;
2. Studying the molecular mechanisms of MDF associated with aging of individual organs;
3. study of horizontal transfer of mitochondria from cell to cell via extracellular vesicles and tunnel nanotubes.
Models: primary and immortal cells, mice, Artemia salina
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Canada
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA
Department of Chemical Sciences, Federico II Naples University, Naples, Italy