13 Jun 2015

Cell science revolution

From This Way Up, 12:25 pm on 13 June 2015
Dr Melanie McConnell.

Dr Melanie McConnell. Photo: Supplied.

There's a revolution going on in cell biology and one of the people leading it is Dr Melanie McConnell from Victoria University of Wellington.

She was part of a group that made a very unusual discovery. About five years ago the team saw mitochondria (the structure that creates the energy to power a cell) being shuffled between cells; a world first.

This transfer of mitochondria between cells creates opportunities to develop new ways of fighting diseases like Parkinson's, Alzhheimer's and cancer.

She has just been awarded a NZ$1 million grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to further research how injured cells can enlist the help of healthy cells living nearby.