Understanding extracellular vesicle physiology for the development of bioinspired nanotechnology platforms

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP


Intercellular communication is essential for normal physiology of all multicellular organisms, for example in development, immune surveillance, neuronal plasticity and many other processes. An important part of this communication is mediated by extracellular vesicles (EVs) - nanovesicles which are secreted by eukaryotic cells and act by delivering their protein and RNA cargo to target cells/tissues. Better understanding of the physiology of EV protein and RNA bioactive transfer mechanisms between specific tissues/cells will improve our knowledge about intricate cell and tissue communication networks on a whole organism level. Furthermore, detailed understanding of the these information/cargo transfer networks will enable the development of bioinspired nanotechnology platforms for manipulating cell- and tissue physiology for probing novel biological principles on an organism level. Even more, the latter will also open up new therapeutic intervention avenues for currently non-druggable disease by developing targeted delivery systems for biopharmaceuticals.
Our goal is to advance the EV physiology field by combining aspects of systems biology and traditional reductionism approaches. We aim to define rate limiting steps in EV RNA cargo transfer, such as ligands, co-factors and antigens that modulate the differential circulation half-life and clearance of native and exogenous EVs, as well the half-life of different RNA species within EVs. Furthermore, we aim to define which EV RNA cargo sequences are targeted and taken up by which tissues, cell types and subcellular organelles, and which are the associated mechanisms. We will undertake this challenging cutting-edge research which will greatly advance current state-of-art of EV physiology field in novel but highly important aspects.
Collaboration with the non-academic partner will help to advance the project in significant ways, importantly by providing significant translational relevance for the discovered new aspects and detailed nuances of EV biology, as well as by providing supplementary training opportunities for the applicant for no less than 12 weeks during the study programme.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011224/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2104930 Studentship BB/M011224/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Scott Bonner