Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In a new Oxford Science Blog, Dr Pavandeep Rai (Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics) guides us through her career and experiences of pushing the boundaries of science in both research and art.

Hard at work in the lab, Pavandeep works to unlock the secrets of Parkinson's

Dr Pavandeep Rai is a Post-doctoral Research Scientist in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. Her work focuses on the effect of something called 'mitochondria' on Parkinson's disease, using cutting edge gene-editing cool CRISPR-Cas. 

To start with, can you give us a beginner’s guide to your research? What is ‘mitochondria drug discovery’?

I started my ‘love affair’ with mitochondria during my undergrad degree at Birmingham, particularly in my year in industry with AstraZeneca. Basically, mitochondria are organelles, small entities within our cells. Their main job is to make something called ATP, which is the energy our cells use. So, if something goes wrong or your mitochondria start to degrade, then that will reduce the amount of energy and your cells don’t work as well.

The lab I’m working in looks specifically at Parkinson’s disease. By looking at the mitochondria, we can try to find ways to improve their functionality. Can we stop them from degrading? Once they’ve started, can we stop them from getting worse?

Currently, I’m using genetic editing tool called CRISPR-Cas. It’s been in the news recently, you might have seen those stories about ‘designer babies’ and the like? But we use it as a research tool to see how removing genes from the genome affects mitochondria.

If we remove a gene and it improves function, then we could maybe use it as a treatment for Parkinson’s.

If removing a gene decreases function in healthy cells, then that tells us something else. Perhaps this is one of the ways that the disease itself progresses?

So, it ties into two aspects of research: one is treatment and the other is understanding.

Read more on the Oxford Science Blog website

Similar stories

Oxford spinout Optellum secures $14m funding to advance pioneering AI-powered lung cancer diagnosis technology

Optellum, a University of Oxford spinout that provides a breakthrough AI platform to diagnose and treat early-stage lung cancer, has raised $14 million in a Series A funding round.

New study shows higher rate of fractures in people with intellectual disability

In the most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers at the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust found a substantially higher rate of fractures in people with intellectual disability compared with people of the same age and gender without an intellectual disability.

New evidence for how our brains handle surprise

A new study from the Bruno Group is challenging our perceptions of how the different regions of the cerebral cortex function. A group of ‘quiet’ cells in the somatosensory cortex that rarely respond to touch have been found to react mainly to surprising circumstances. The results suggest their function is not necessarily driven by touch, but may indicate an important and previously unidentified role across all the major cortices.

Language learning difficulties in children linked to brain differences

A new study using MRI has revealed structural brain changes in children with developmental language disorder (DLD), a common but under-recognised difficulty in language learning. Children with DLD aged 10-15 showed reduced levels of myelin in areas of the brain associated with speaking and listening to others, and areas involved in learning new skills. This finding is a significant advance in our understanding of DLD and these brain differences may explain the poorer language outcomes in this group.

The Gene Therapists Headline at Glastonbury 2022

Rosie Munday writes about her experience taking science to the masses at the Glastonbury Festival.