Juliane Nguyen, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Developing Therapeutic Materials to Redirect Cellular Chatter
Written by Arun Kumar
Cellular communication takes place when soluble proteins such as chemokines, cytokines, or exosomes are exchanged between cells. Exosomes are tiny vesicles secreted by cells containing proteins, nucleic acids, lipid profiles, or other molecules. Recently, exosome communication has brought light to interesting functionality in the growth and repair of cardiac tissue. Juliane Nguyen presents that the exosomes secreted by damaged cardiac tissues can recruit mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the bone marrow and have a regenerative and angiogenetic effect at the damage site. Looking closely at the content of exosomes, the group was able to associate the activity of a microRNA, miR-101 isolated from the exosomes to the regenerative pathways such as angiogenesis and anti-apoptotic signaling. Mice suffering from myocardial infarction treated with miR-101 loaded MSCs displayed reduced fibrosis and improved cardiac function. The next question the research group wanted to answer was how to upscale the exosome production from the cells and use it as a therapeutic intervention. Small molecules like N-Methyldopamine and Norepinephrine were found to regulate protein targets that significantly promoted exosome production and increased the exosomes secreted per cell without affecting the protein composition within them. With an improved exosome secreted, the group is focusing on using RNA-based materials to modulate the cellular communication and target miRNA to a specific cellular location to promote therapeutic outcomes.