My name is Nana Abena Anti, a recent graduate from Michigan State University, where I studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. This past year, I have been working at the SENS Research Foundation as a post-baccalaureate scholar. Prior to my fellowship, I worked at Dr. Robert Abramovitch’s lab at MSU. During my time there, I studied the mechanism by which Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative organism for Tuberculosis, infects humans by testing a few compounds with the potential to kill the pathogen. From this experience, I acquired basic knowledge and skills in research, which have been very helpful in my current fellowship.
My current research team at SRF specializes in studying and developing treatments for mitochondrial diseases. These diseases occur when mitochondria, structures in our cells that produce most of the energy for our body, do not function properly. Mitochondria have their own DNA molecules that constitute a “code language” that tells the mitochondria how to do its job. Most mitochondrial diseases are usually as a result of low numbers of mitochondria in our cells, low levels of DNA in the mitochondria, or errors in the ‘code language’.
For my project, I am developing methods to send in more mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA into cells. This will help increase their levels in cells and also overcome the effect of dysfunctional mitochondria in the cells. I will achieve this by extracting mitochondria from healthy cells in other parts of the body and coating them with different molecules that will allow them to enter the cell.