Mitochondria have evolved from a cellular metabolic regulator to a potential acellular therapy for treating diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Therefore, understanding the role of the mitochondrial transfer process in health and disease is critical.
IMPACT has been a pioneer in this area of research at the national level. “The quality of the publications that we have achieved in the last six years, in addition to their high citation rate, is proof of the impact that has been achieved and has allowed us to position ourselves both nationally and internationally,” assures Patricia Luz, principal investigator of the Center and of the Universidad de los Andes.
In November, the “2nd Symposium on mitochondrial transfer: From basic science to clinical application” was held, which was organized by the IMPACT Center together with the Center for Biomedical Research and Innovation (CiiB) of the Universidad de los Andes and brought together the national scientific community around research on mitochondrial transfer.
For the expert, “mitochondrial transfer has emerged as a new form of cellular communication that is becoming increasingly relevant. A few years ago, many thought of this possibility almost as a fortuitous or science-fiction event. However, the consequences and effects seen in recent years and its implications and potential applications have made it a subject that many international research groups have studied in recent times”, he says.
The event, held in the Aula Magna of the Universidad de los Andes, included the participation of researchers Estefanía Nova of the Universidad de Concepción, who is currently investigating the role of mitochondrial transfer in cancer; Valentina Parra of the Universidad de Chile, who has been studying the role of mitochondrial dynamics in cardiovascular diseases for years; Patricia Luz-Crawford together with Maroun Khoury, director of IMPACT, who has worked on the part of mitochondria and mitochondrial transfer derived from mesenchymal stem cells as potential therapeutic agents in different cellular models including inflammatory and degenerative diseases (such as osteoarthritis, GVHD, rheumatoid arthritis) as well as in hematopoiesis; and Jimena Cuenca, also from the Universidad de los Andes and the IMPACT Basal Center, who is studying the role of mitochondria transfer in respiratory diseases.
When asked about the advances in this line of research presented at the event, Jimena Cuenca explains that “the effects at the physiological and pathological level, as well as its possible use as a treatment for various diseases, is still under study. The presentations at the recent symposium, given by leading international and national researchers, reflected significant progress in understanding the mechanisms, clinical implications, and challenges in this area. This event served as a platform for collaboration and feedback among experts, strengthening the position of this research at the forefront of biology and medicine”.
On the other hand, the researcher points out that “the research of the various groups that make up the Center in the area of mitochondrial transfer has been highly valued at the national and international level as demonstrated by the publications and projects awarded. Our contribution stands out for its innovative approach, the application of state-of-the-art technologies, and the active collaboration with experts from different disciplines. This reflects our commitment to the generation of cutting-edge knowledge and the search for solutions to relevant pathologies worldwide”.
The activity was also attended by distinguished international scientists invited by the Center: Rafael Argüello, CNRS Researcher from Marseille (France), an expert in the role of metabolism and mitochondria in inflammatory and anti-inflammatory processes in different immunological cell models; Keshav Singh, from the University of Alabama (United States), founder and editor in chief of the journal Mitochondrion; Andrés Caicedo, a researcher at the University of San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador), a pioneer in performing an artificial transfer of mitochondria from one cell to another in a method coined as “mitoception” which allows studying the role of mitochondrial transfer in different pathologies; and Jonathan Brestoff of the University of Washington (United States), who investigates the role of mitochondrial transfer between macrophages and adipocytes in inflammatory processes associated with obesity and the mechanisms related to mitochondrial transfer.