Photographs by Nicolás Novoa-Marchant, Courtesy of SDP blacked

Enthusiastic, passionate and methodical. These are some of the many qualities of the Dra. Francesca Burgos Bravo, who in his short scientific career, He has made highly significant achievements, polishing brilliantly what will no doubt be, a promising future.

This young biochemistry, Master's degree in Biochemistry and now also, PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Chile, She was recently awarded the prize "Young talent in the life sciences", Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Brazil, being the first researcher to cross the goal, After a career that included more than 100 scientists. "In 2018, finishing the doctoral, I decided to enter the contest, and while, at the beginning it was not very sure, many people in my environment I encouraged with great zeal to do this, What triggered that he agreed and run again. That was how I signed up in February of this year, and at the end of April, they gave me the news. It had remained within the 5 finalists, 180 scientists from across Latin America, and that meant that I invite the Congress of the society in Brazil and exposed my work, What is part of the final evaluation", explains the Dra. Burgos.

In the twelfth second version of this award, that is given to students of excellence, Francesca was airy with the presentation of their research. However, not everything was easy, the way to get it already had tried to write before, specifically in 2017, more results from this time were different from these, where it managed to position itself at the top of the event. "I presented to the audience on Sunday, may 27, and then, at the end of the Congress, even when there, they unveiled the resolution. They were moments of intense nervousness, but also of hope and confidence that had exposed. It is a very meticulous process where both review your presentation, as the background and the final Defense", says Francesca.

Between astrocytes and neurons

The Dra. Burgos completed his doctorate in 2017, and their thesis supervisors were the Dra. Lisette Leyton and Dr. Andrew Quest, This last, Senior researcher of the center of studies of chronic diseases (ACCDiS ). In this way, most of their experiments were developed in the laboratory of cellular communications.

In this sense, the line of research that developed during his Ph.d., was linked to neuroscience, focused specifically, in the study of communication neurona-astrocito that occurs in the Central nervous system (SNC), generated proinflammatory conditions, for example, After a traumatic injury or infarction stroke. "This communication is linked to the fact that neurons have a limited ability to regenerate after episodes as an accident, and for example, When someone suffers a severe trauma and spinal cord or the brain by tapping, You can reach lose cognitive and/or motor ability, What explains this neuronal disability, where the cell cannot extend their axons and restore the Synapse. Process key to be able to transmit the nerve impulse", explains.

In this sense, the question was to why neuron not can regenerate?, and under this scenario, several studies have shown that it is due to the non-permissive environment for the feedback generated by glial cells surrounding neurons, and in particular the interaction that takes place between glial cell (in this case the astrocyte) and neuron. This communication, avoid having a feedback of the same.

"These studies comes from investigations of Ramón y Cajal, in the year 1928 described that after an injury, axons can not be regenerated. Then, other researchers as Aguayo went past on the study and developed innovative experiments for the time, as taking a CNS neuron and place it in an atmosphere characteristic of the peripheral nervous system (SNP), where was that if suffering a cut, They regeneraban. With this experiment, the scientists questioned if the did not regenerate by an inability of the same neuron, or the environment had something to do in this regard. It was for this reason that put it within the environment of the HNS, and observed that if it is regenerating, that suggested there was something in the CNS that made that neuron, Unable to regenerate. There they began to characterize molecules, and the astrocyte was key, Since this cell was not found in the SNP", designates the Dra. Francesca Burgos.

In this sense, and thanks to all the background information collected around neurona-astrocito communication, and finished understanding of how this interaction changes when the environment is altered, is that research that Francesca developed, had the primary mission, provide basic science to serve as a future to be linked to a more applied sector approach, in particular focused on characterize at the molecular and cellular level dependent interaction communication between astrocytes and neurons between neuronal membrane Thy-1 glycoprotein, and the astrocíticas of membrane proteins, sindecan-4 and avb3 Integrin, both molecules whose levels are increased under inflammatory conditions seen after injury.

"We started characterizing cell communication interactions-dependent neurona-astrocito, then we did from a biochemical sidewalk. To do this, We use different experimental tools; both pharmacological, as genetic manipulation strategies, which helped block, decrease or increase the levels of our proteins of interest and thus to analyse the effects of such changes in the cellular communication between neurons and glial cell. After these tests, was born the need to characterize how this protein-protein interaction, media communication neurona-astrocito, responds to mechanical stimuli. This analysis, comes because this protein-protein interaction, It causes astrocytes to start to migrate, and on the other hand, promotes neuron to retract. These are cellular processes dependent on the contraction of the cytoskeleton of actin-myosin, generated by traction forces which are applied to all protein joints that keep the cell communication, as the interaction between protein astrocíticas and Thy-1. Characterize as interaction responds to mechanical stimuli is important since has been described that mechanical forces regulate kinetic parameters of dissociation between proteins and therefore, they will have an effect in these unions-dependent cellular processes. It is therefore the importance of the study of the Mechanobiology, which is taking every day more relevant within the basic science", ends the biochemistry.