What is regenerative medicine?

Fellows 2016 L'Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science, let's discover the portraits of Caroline Bissardon, Cécile Echalier and Pauline Nauroy.

Caroline Bissardon: "Articular cartilage - just like new!"

Arthritis, a debilitating and painful illness, affecting older people in particular, affects about 10 million people in France and 80% of those over 80 years old. An ambitious research area is seeking to reconstruct articular cartilage, allowing people to retain mobility and flexibility in their skeletons. However, this reconstruction is not currently sufficient for resolving pathologies affecting the cartilage such as arthritis. The cause of this dysfunction is not only mechanical but can also be biological and genetic. It is in this context that Caroline Bissardon is working with her research into selenium to determine the importance of this trace element that is essential to articular cartilage. “This field of knowledge is really new and my aim is to define the involvement of selenium from a biological, biomechanical and biochemical point of view, in order to propose improvements in treatment strategies as well as tissue regeneration”, she explains. She is doing her PhD at the Université Grenoble-Alpes, at the Institute of Earth Sciences as well as being part of the Rayonnement Synchrotron et Recherche Médicale team, in collaboration with the Centre for NanoHealth at the University of Wales, Swansea. Her objective: to be able to eventually generate high-performance articular cartilage, especially for very frequently used joints.

Cécile Echalier: “Lego” molecules to regenerate tissues

Replacing a diseased kidney, regenerating worn cartilage, or transplanting artificial skin, these are the challenges that could be solved thanks to a gel made of hybrid molecules capable of being assembled like Lego. This is the original idea developed by Cécile Echalier, currently a PhD student at the Max Mousseron Biomolecule Institute and the Institut Charles Gerhardt at the Université de Montpellier. The starting point is simple: to help injured tissues to reconstruct, they need to be supported with a gel that is capable of adapting to each situation and each tissue type. “We chose to synthesize molecules composed of two parts. One carries out the desired biological activity to regenerate the tissue, the second is capable of joining with other molecules using chemical bonding, and that is the Lego part”, explains Cécile Echalier. To go even further, Cécile Echalier is exploring the possibility of injecting a solution to shape the gel directly in the patient’s body at the point of the injection and “you will then have a promising recipe for the regeneration of human tissue”. Wanting to share her enthusiasm around her, she is currently preparing a practical workshop for students on the theme “3D synthesis and printing of hybrid biomaterials”. “I want them to be aware of the role of scientists – women as much as men – in the great advancements in society”, concludes the young researcher.

Pauline Nauroy: "How does the zebrafish regenerate its fin?"

Pauline Nauroy is interested in the little vertebrate, the zebrafish, for its extraordinary capacity to regenerate an amputated fin in ten days. Her PhD thesis has the aim of identifying proteins in the extracellular matrix that orchestrate the regeneration of the fin. This matrix is a sort of proteinaceous cement between the cells, it is dynamic and capable of controlling the behaviour and the destiny of cells. “A better understanding of this biological process would have great benefit to human regenerative and reconstructive medicine”, says Pauline Nauroy, who is doing her doctorate at the Lyon Institute of Functional Genomics, at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon. By using the high-throughput DNA sequencing technique, she has been able to draw up a map of all genes that code the proteins in the extracellular matrix involved in the regeneration process. This study has identified key proteins, collagens, as important players in regeneration. This is a discovery that will be able to be used in human medicine in order to facilitate the regeneration of tissues, for example, the skin, to treat serious burns.

Let's discover their performances:

For Women in Science

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