One of the reasons diseases that affect the nervous system have been so hard to understand and treat is that the tissue is not accessible to study while the disease is developing or progressing. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are shed from every cell in the body. They are little pieces of the cell itself. These tiny pieces of cell can communicate with other cells, or they can get into biofluids such as cerebrospinal fluid, blood, etc. These EVs are normally present in our biofluids and they can provide information about normal healthy cells, as well as cells that have something wrong; injury, stress, or disease. We can capture EVs to monitor what’s happening in the brain when diseases are developing and progressing.
Dr. Van Keuren-Jensen is a professor in Neurogenomics Division, Deputy Director of Research Resources, Director of Center for Noninvasive Diagnosis, Translational Genomics Research Institute. She received her Ph.D. from Stonybrook University at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York where she studied the role of activity-regulated genes in synaptic transmission and neuronal morphology. Following her Ph.D., she then went to TGen. She also has a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Kansas, and she double majored in Biology and Anthropology at Boston University. Her lab examines the RNA cargo of extracellular vesicles using several different sequencing platforms (Illumina, Oxford Nanopore, 10x Genomics) and a diverse set of bioinformatics tools for analysis.