London Met leading new cell science

The International Society for Extracellular Vesicles was founded by scientists earlier this year and aims to promote research into this exciting field of science.

Date: 26/05/2012

Microvesicles could have a huge impact on our understanding of infectious disease and cancer, but there is much we still don’t know about them. This, however, is set to change thanks to a new society co-founded by London Metropolitan University.

The International Society for Extracellular Vesicles was founded by scientists earlier this year and aims to promote research into this exciting field of science. 

Professor Jameel Inal, head of the Cellular and Molecular Immunology Research Centre based in London Met’s Faculty of Life Sciences, is one of the leading experts on microvesicles and a founding member of the society. He recently travelled to Gothenburg, Sweden, for the society’s inaugural meeting.

Jameel said: “This is one of the most exciting and fastest growing areas in the biosciences, but as the field is still in its infancy, scientists are using different techniques and methods in their research. The society will ensure standardisation of isolation and analysis techniques.”

Microvesicles are fragments of plasma membrane shed from almost all cell types, and are considered important mediators of transport between cells. Thanks to research carried out at London Met, their role in infectious disease is becoming increasingly apparent.

“One of the things we’ve found is that certain intracellular pathogens probe cells to stimulate a release of microvesicles”, explains Jameel. “As the cell releases them, the resulting membrane breach allows the pathogen to enter and infect the cell.

London Metropolitan University is the only institution in the country carrying out research in this area, and scientists like Jameel are leading the field.

It’s an exciting time for the Professor of Immunology, who discovered a new type of protein earlier in his career. He has just been invited to join the editorial board of the new Journal of Extracellular Vesicles and is also involved in organising a major Biochemical Society conference, entitled ‘Microvesiculation and Disease’, at London Met in September.

He and his colleagues are also preparing ten academic papers on microvesicles and their relation to infectious disease and cancer.

Professor Inal is a fine example of the academic calibre at London Met, a university he enjoys working at. 

“We’re given a lot of academic freedom here and I always feel very well supported by the Faculty," he said. “We also ensure that our students have the chance to participate in our research which is very rewarding for everyone involved.

“In truth, the best work of my career is being done at London Met, but even better science is yet to come!” 

Find out more about studying in the Faculty of Life Sciences.