Student Profile

Jessica Bratt

Placental membrane MSC for regenerative medicine therapy of bronchopulmonary dysplasia

PhD Supervisor(s):  Dr Pensee Wu, Dr Nick Forsyth and Professor Alicia El Haj


PhD Summary

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a serious condition seen in 8-25% of preterm neonates who require prolonged oxygen therapy. As its underlying pathogenesis remains unknown, the management of BPD is suboptimal. Despite treatment, neonates often have prolonged stay in the neonatal intensive care as well as high morbidity or mortality.

Stem cell therapy is a promising therapeutic modality for BPD in terms of their potential for lung tissue engineering to replace the fibrotic neonatal lung tissues. The use of mesenchymal stem cells are particularly attractive due to their immunoregatory properties and effects on tissue repair. As an autologous cell source, placental membrane MSCs would be ideal for BPD therapy. Recently, nanoparticles have been shown to improve MSC therapeutic efficiency.

Prothymosin α (ProT) is a highly acidic nuclear protein, the sequence of which is highly conserved from unicellular organisms to humans; this implies its essential role in cell function. ProT possesses cellular functions that are involved in proliferation, apoptosis, oxidative stress, immunomodulation and chromatin remodeling. BPD has been associated with maternal smoking which is known to increase ProT expression in lung tissues. The ProT gene is also found to be differentially expressed in blood from BPD and control groups of preterm infants. We hypothesize that BPD can be ameliorated by placental membrane MSC therapy which is mediated through ProT

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