University at Buffalo researcher wins grant to advance a novel approach for loading useful molecules into exosomes

exosomesExosomes are tiny, pouch-like vesicles that are secreted by cells and that could be used as tools for delivering drugs and treating disease. In this image series, UB researchers used a novel technology called the EXO-CODE platform to engineer exosomes (right) with the ability to form more capillary-like structures in endothelial cells than unmodified exosomes (left). The capillary-like structures promote development of new blood vessels, which is important for tissue regeneration. This is one example of how the EXO-CODE platform can be used to tailor exosomes for a wide variety of uses. Image: Therapeutic Biomaterials Lab at UB

UB’s Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund has awarded a total of $134,000 to four UB research teams to advance development of these technologies.

Established by an anonymous donor in 2011, the fund supports commercializing the inventions and discoveries of UB faculty and students. The new awards will enable university scientists to develop prototypes, conduct efficacy studies and complete other projects that demonstrate the market potential of their technologies — an important step toward attracting support from investors and corporate partners.

“Helping bring useful products to market faster and smarter — that’s the excitement of the Holm Fund,” says Venu Govindaraju, vice president for research and economic development. “These UB innovators are trying to solve important challenges in health care, advanced manufacturing and sustainable energy. This fund supports their efforts in commercializing new technologies and benefits Western New York’s growing innovation economy.”

“The Holm Fund is an important component of UB’s commercialization efforts. To date, $680,000 has been invested in 15 technologies, with six licensed to UB startups and one to a Buffalo-based medical device company,” says Jeff Dunbar, director of UB’s Technology Transfer team.

Juliane Nguyen

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Nguyen has received $33,000 to advance a novel approach for loading useful molecules into exosomes, which are tiny, pouch-like vesicles that are secreted by cells and that could be used as tools for delivering drugs, treating disease and even regenerating tissue. Nguyen’s lab is developing methods and materials, collectively known as the EXO-Code platform, for stocking exosomes with RNA, peptides, proteins or small molecules. The technique involves marking cargo such as RNA with molecular tags called EXO-Codes, and then introducing these tagged compounds into cells. Once inside, the EXO-Codes act as zip codes, causing the cells to direct the cargo into exosomes that are then released from the cell. The new funding will allow Nguyen’s team to optimize this technology and test its utility in tissue regeneration. The platform is expected to have broad applicability in a wide variety of fields, including cancer treatment, drug delivery, vaccination and cosmetics. This technology has been optioned by a biotech company, giving the firm the right to license and commercialize the platform.

Source –  University at Buffalo

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