Test Range – A story about research done in Roux’s lab – NCCR in Chemical Biology

Test Range - A story about research done in Roux's lab - NCCR in Chemical Biology

To present to the public the research carried out in Aurelian Roux’s laboratory, PhD student Vania Macias Calvo wrote a poetic text, discovered with pleasure! An unusual approach to communicating science presented during the Nuit des Musées 2022. Get inspired!

have you ever asked yourself when When does something start and when does it end?
Maybe you thought about this when you met someone new or when you were deciding to leave that job.
have you questioned yourself where things start and end?
Maybe they come to your mind, such problematic boundaries.
Why are we discussing this, and when and where are the questions similar?
Well, you have become familiar with the concept of “limit”.

Limit is the notion that shows how far something can go,
And at the same time, it defines the same thing.
This is the maximum and minimum.
It is a limit, and it exists in a specified place and time.
Now, can this limit change? Can other things pass? Can it be regulated?
The same questions of daily life can be applied to biological systems…

Life is tightly organized.
If we explore the microcosm,
We see that the cell is the most basic and fundamental unit of life,
It is highly active, and is limited by its membrane.
Even these small objects are defined by a limit.
In our lab, we try to understand how cells behave if you limit the space where they can grow. For that we put the cells in the capsule.
Have you tried bubble tea? The tea has pops made from alginate, if you chew these pops, you can taste a different flavor. In our experiments, the capsules are also made of alginate, except this time, we inhale the cells instead of ingesting a foreign juice.

But, you know, life is far more complex than a bunch of cells locked in a bubble. At some point, they interact with each other to form a larger functional unity, such as a variety of tissues, organs, and even a whole organism! How is it organized?
In our lab we study hydra too, and no, it is not related to any miracle movie.
The hydra is a tiny creature like a worm, and it’s captivating as it doesn’t get old.
If it loses part of its body, it will regrow them completely.
If we change environmental conditions, how will Hydra rearrange its boundaries?
So we go ahead and explore the limits of Hydra…

Perhaps you must be thinking that what is the purpose behind studying all this?
When we do basic science, we like to know things because there is beauty and wonder. But yes, also because we hope it can have a positive impact on the future. For example, capsule studies can be used for cancer and stem cell research, development of biocompatible drugs. Hydra studies could impact the regeneration research field. In the end… who knows, maybe we can contribute to expanding the boundaries of our own knowledge and science!

Aurelian Roux’s Lab, Nuit des Musées 2022 (Drawing: Juan Manuel García Arcos)

Vania Macias Calvio. about

Vania Macias Calvio received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the Pontificia Universidad Católica, Chile. From 2018, he holds a Ph.D. in biological sciences with a mention in cellular and molecular biology at the same university under the supervision of Dr. Maria Paz Marzolo. In September 2021, Vania started a one-year fellowship Aurelian Rocks Lab, supported by the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship and focusing on Parkinson’s disease, one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases worldwide. It is expected that the number of affected patients will increase in the following years as the population ages. Vania’s research focused on studying a protein called reelin, which is essential for nervous system development and neuronal survival. Vania is interested in evaluating whether Reelin may have a neuroprotective role in Parkinson’s disease and how the ESCRT complex is involved in this process. His fellowship aims to better understand the involvement of the ESCRT complex in Parkinson’s disease, particularly in the degradation of alpha-synuclein.

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