Shoshan-Barmatz laboratory focuses on VDAC1, a protein located in the outer mitochondrial membrane that acts as a gatekeeper of mitochondrial functions, including metabolism and energy production. VDAC1 serves as a hub protein, interacting with various other proteins. Its interactome includes proteins associated with DNA and RNA maintenance, and proteins involved in metabolism, apoptosis, signal transduction, and anti-oxidation, and more. This enables the regulation and integration of mitochondrial functions with other cellular activities.
The numerous roles played by VDAC1, as well as its overexpression in disease states, led the Shoshan-Barmatz group to develop several VDAC1-based strategies that lead to dramatic effects on various diseases considered as metabolic diseases, all of which are characterized by VDAC1 overexpression and altered cell metabolism and/or apoptosis. Their studies involve a variety of approaches, such as molecular biology, protein purification, electrophysiology (for monitoring single-channel activity), tissue culture, and the use of animal models for various diseases (e.g., breast, liver, and lung cancers, melanomas, glioblastoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes). As such, Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz and her team were able to develop and test VDAC1-based strategies simultaneously attacking several cancer hallmarks, and for use in treating type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases. These VDAC1-based strategies include several VDAC1-interacting small molecules, VDAC1-based peptides, and VDAC1-specific siRNA, all of which have been validated in vitro and in vivo and are protected by dozens of patents.
Varda Shoshan Barmatz is the Hyman-Kreitman Chair in Bioenergetics at Ben-Gurion University (BGU). Her PhD is from the Weizmann Institute; Post-doctoral training was from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Toronto. In 1982, she joined the Department of Life Sciences, BGU, and served as Chair (2000-2004). Her awards include the Hestrin Prize of the Israel Biochemistry Society, Teva Award for Young Scientists (1993) and Teva Founders Award (2016). Lady Globes magazine selected her as one of the 50 most infl uential women in Israel (2009) and one of five who made breakthroughs in science (2016). She was the Founder and Director (2006-2015) of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev.