Geurt Schilders, a Dutch biochemist, has mapped proteins that control the activity of human exosome. It also plays a role in the degradation of RNA molecule.
He has also discovered that PM/Scl-75, one of the components from which the exosome is built, is cut as soon as a cell dies. Finally, Schilders has identified an exosome-associated protein that is also frequently recognised by antibodies. These antibodies possibly form an interesting additional marker for the diagnosis of the PM/Scl overlap syndrome.
In people who suffer from an autoimmune disease, the immune system has been disrupted to such an extent that it produces antibodies against a person's own substances. In polymyositis/sclerodermia (PM/Scl) overlap syndrome these antibodies are targeted at the exosome. This complex of proteins is involved in the degradation of RNA in the cell. RNA forms an essential link in the flow of information in a cell and, therefore, a strict control over the degradation of RNA is vitally important.
Schilders gained his doctorate from the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, part of the Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences and the Institute for Molecules and Materials.
He has just started working as a post-doc in the same department on a project aimed at identifying autoantibody markers for colorectal cancer. This project was carried out with support from the Open Competition (now Free Competition) of NWO Division for the Chemical Sciences.