Mart Saarma is the Research Director and head of the laboratory at the Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE, University of Helsinki. He was in 2015-2016 the Vice President of the European Research Council and in 2011-2016 the member of the EMBO Council. He is the member of several academies, EMBO and Academia Europea. Dr. Saarma group has characterized several new GDNF family receptors, discovered a new neurotrophic factor CDNF. His research group is investigating the signalling and biological functions of GDNF family ligands and endoplasmic reticulum located CDNF/MANF neurotrophic factor families, both within and outside of the nervous system. He is also interested in the therapeutic potential of these proteins in various diseases, so he is testing their efficacy in animal models of Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke and diabetes mellitus. One of the highlights of his research has been initiation and successful completion of phase I-II clinical trials of CDNF protein in Parkinson's disease patients by the Finnish company Herantis Pharma Plc. He was also a founder of Mobidiag Ltd. company that was recently sold to Hologic company.
In this talk, Prof. Saarma will relate his personal journey of combining cutting-edge biomedical research with entrepreneurial activities, to bring his discoveries to society.
Welcome to this exciting seminar!
Lindholm, P., Voutilainen, M .H., Laurén, J., Peränen, J., Leppänen, V-M., Andressoo, J.-O., Lindahl, M., Janhunen, S., Kalkkinen, N., Timmusk, T., Tuominen, R. K. and Saarma, M. (2007) Novel neurotrophic factor CDNF protects and rescues midbrain dopamine neurons in vivo. Nature, 448, 73-77.
Kopra, J, Vilenius, C, Grealish, S, Harma, M-A, Varendi, K, Lindholm, J, Castren, E, Voikar, V, Bjorklund, A, Piepponen, T. P, Saarma, M*, Andressoo, J-O*. (2015) GDNF is not required for catecholaminergic neuron survival in vivo. Nature Neuroscience 18 (3): 319-322. * Equal contribution.
Mahato AK, Kopra J, Renko JM, Visnapuu T, Korhonen I, Pulkkinen N, Bespalov MM, Domanskyi A, Ronken E, Piepponen TP, Voutilainen MH, Tuominen RK, Karelson M, Sidorova YA, Saarma M. (2020) Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor receptor Rearranged during transfection agonist supports dopamine neurons in vitro and enhances dopamine release in vivo. Movement Disorders. 35(2):245-255. doi: 10.1002/mds.27943. Epub 2019 Dec 16. PMID:31840869
Casarotto PC, Girych M, Fred SM, Kovaleva V, Moliner R, Enkavi G, Biojone C, Cannarozzo C, Sahu MP, Kaurinkoski K, Brunello CA, Steinzeig A, Winkel F, Patil S, Vestring S, Serchov T, Diniz CRAF, Laukkanen L, Cardon I, Antila H, Rog T, Piepponen TP, Bramham CR, Normann C, Lauri SE, Saarma M, Vattulainen I, Castrén E (2021) Antidepressant drugs act by directly binding to TRKB neurotrophin receptors. Cell. 2021 Feb 18:S0092-8674(21)00077-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.034. Online ahead of print.PMID: 33606976
Jasmin M, Ahn EH, Voutilainen MH, Fombonne J, Guix C, Viljakainen T, Kang SS, Yu LY, Saarma M*, Mehlen P*, Ye K.* (2021) Netrin-1 and its receptor DCC modulate survival and death of dopamine neurons and Parkinson's disease features. EMBO J. 2021 Feb 1;40(3):e105537. doi: 10.15252/embj.2020105537. Epub 2020 Dec 22.PMID: 33351190. * Shared senior authors