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Noble and Greenough School
Dedham, MA

Estefania Reyes Bricio
Kidney Disease Initiative

Kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. One type of kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), has been linked to a failure of a kidney calcium ion channel known as TRPC5. Patients with this disease have a defective TRPC5 that lets too many calcium ions into kidney cells, which eventually leads to cell death. Drugs exist that bind to TRPC5 and regulate the flow of calcium ions; however, these drugs are not very potent, often leading to unwanted side effects. There is a need to discover new drugs that bind to TRPC5. An important part of this process is ensuring drugs do not bind to ion channels that are very closely related to TRPC5—in other words, to ensure that the drugs are selective. Using a molecular biology technique called cloning, Nattalie created two new stable cell lines that express TRPC4 and TRPC6, two ion channels very closely related to TRPC5. These cell lines will be of invaluable use for future experiments in order to determine the selectivity of new TRPC5 inhibitors.

Working at the Broad this summer was Nattalie’s first research experience, and she took quite a bit about the scientific process away from it: “Through BSSP I’ve learned so much about what is means to do research, to ask questions, to do an experiment three or four times in order to get the best results, and to discuss the results with other people in your lab for feedback or debate.” This also likely will not be Nattalie’s last research experience: “Up until now I’ve been pretty dead-set on going into medicine, but now I realize there is much more to do in science!”