EVs and Atherosclerosis

“Public are curious and they want to find out more and increasingly that is becoming part of what we do is not doing the science behind close doors but hoping to engage the public and make them interested in what we do.”

Dr. Charlotte Lawson

Dr. Charlotte Lawson is a senior lecturer in comparative biomedical sciences department at the Royal Veterinary College. She is also one of the founding members of the UK EV forum and the treasurer of the society. She has been working in inflammation research for many years and has been particularly interested in endothelial cells and atherosclerosis, and the early events in that process which is the leukocyte endothelial interaction and how that then lead to atherosclerotic lesion formation. Dr Lawson and her research team work with human endothelial cells and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and human monocyte lines.

Do you think that the world of EVs has grown in the last decade?

Charlotte Lawson: Absolutely, so I came into this field because of my interest in leukocytes endothelial interaction and intercellular communication and we always felt that they are something missing.  So you could look at antibodies or you could look at cytokines that are being released but even if you took them out of the soup, you know with neutralised antibodies or inhibitors whatever is there were always something else going on so that is how I came to EVs.  And then I actually organised the meeting before the inaugural UK EV forum because I didn’t feel like I have any friends in the field and so I organised a micro particle workshop back in December 2013. And we got such a buzz from it and such a positive response that actually people who had been speakers at that meeting, I gathered them up and said should we do something a little bit more with this and so then we form UK EV.  We had the inaugural UK EV meeting the following year and every year year on year we’ve seen more people coming to the meet and more people signing up, more people wanting to present, and at first year there are lots of people who came because they wanted to listen and they wanted to know how they could have EVs in their life. Although there are very few people who are actually submitting abstracts, year on year that is growing and actually just having look around the posters today in the UK EV meeting we can see how far the field has come on even in 5 or 6 years.

As it is growing, have you noticed a greatest sense of community among EV scientists?

Charlotte Lawson: Absolutely I think we have all really embraced that idea and we quite collaborative and willing to help each other. We come from various different fields and we continue in those field so there is quite a few of us that are broadly interested in inflammation in one flavour and another but also the huge numbers of people that are interested in cancer and some people who are interested in the technical side and people who are interested in liquid biopsy and where EVs might be going as an noninvasive biomarkers. I think we all embraced that idea that we all coming from different directions but if we work together then we can answer some of the fundamental questions that we need to ask.

With the progress that EV research has made, do you think EVs can change the world?

Charlotte Lawson: I think so definitely.  I think that we are starting to see progress in terms of where they might be important, how we might be able to harness them.  We have got commercial enterprises on broad as well and I think that is important for pushing things forward and actually my phd supervisor saying “tell me about this malarkey” and people talking about “oh, it is just a random number generation.” and those kind of things and I think people are seeing now that actually these are real, they are there, they have a function, when will we get the first therapeutic output or clinical output you know is probably not that far away actually as these things go.

Do you think is important for the public to know what goes on in EVs research or just in scientific?

Charlotte Lawson: Absolutely…taxpayers are paying if they are funding UK research grants so they have the right to know but I think also the public are curious and they want to find out more and increasingly that is becoming part of what we do is not doing the science behind close doors but hoping to engage the public and make them interested in what we do.

In your own words, how would you describe EV to someone who never heard about EV before?

Charlotte Lawson: So I guess they are tiny little packets of information that are released by cells so that they can communicate with cells that are rather close by or far away in the same body, in a different body, maybe even in a different species.

Is there any new research that you have heard recently that particularly fascinated you?

Charlotte Lawson: Just hearing today (during UK EV meeting) about the neural stem cells and EVs coming out of them, I think that is a really exciting development.  I think that whole world of stem cells and how they might be useful therapeutically is really interesting and EVs clearly are important.

If you have a billion pounds, what kind of research would you spend it on?

Charlotte Lawson: So I think for me it would come down to trying to develop ways to measure and isolate EVs that are straightforward and accessible and then to take that into the therapeutic room. 

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