Associate Professor Mhoyra Fraser was awarded the Faculty Research Development Fund (FRDF) Project Grant focusing on the role of extracellular vesicles in communication.

Oxygen deprivation occurring in the womb or during delivery leads to permanent functional impairment of the brain and is one of the most common challenges faced by infants born preterm. Because of major advances in neonatal intensive care, survival of these preterm infants with brain injury has increased significantly. However, currently, there are no effective therapies to reduce injury. A major therapy limitation is the failure to traverse the blood brain barrier (BBB) and enter the brain. Exosomes, small vesicles, are naturally capable of penetrating the BBB, and have the capacity to communicate with the microenvironment through transfer of proteins, miRNA and other nucleic acids. Importantly, they have an intrinsic neuroprotective therapeutic activity as well as being ideal candidates to deliver targeted therapeutic molecules of choice through modifications to enhance delivery. These proposed studies will examine the intrinsic therapeutic potential of unmodified human fetal neural stem cell-derived exosomes to ameliorate preterm brain injury to previously inaccessible regions of the brain using our well-established animal model of preterm brain injury.