Undergraduate Student Spotlight – Yesha Patel

Yesha Patel is a senior Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Economics dual degree undergraduate student as well as a member of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. On campus, Yesha has been a TA in the Biology department for the last two years and is in the Minutemen Equity Fund. Since she was a sophomore, Yesha has been working summers in Dr. Ella Zeldich’s lab at Boston University’s School of Medicine.¬†She is an author on a paper that was recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, titled “Extracellular Vesicle Treatment Alleviates Neurodevelopmental and Neurodegenerative Pathology in Cortical Spheroid Model of Down Syndrome

In the lab, Yesha utilized 2D and 3D cellular models derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells to investigate the molecular mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration. The project she worked on looked at the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles (EVs), specifically functional recovery in a rhesus monkey model of cortical injury. The study used a cortical spheroid model of Down Syndrome (DS), which mimics the cellular and structural abnormalities found in the brain of individuals with DS, to which isolated EVs from human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were administered. The results showed that the EV treatment improved neuronal differentiation and decreased markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in the model. Additionally, the treatment improved synaptic function and reduced the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, which are characteristic features of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a common neurodegenerative disorder associated with DS.