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Exosome Technology Acquired for TBI, Stroke Therapies

Stroke circulation

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

16 July 2018. A company developing therapies for brain injuries and neurodegenerative disorders is acquiring the rights to a process that treats these conditions with pieces of RNA transferred in tiny containers call exosomes. NeuroTrauma Sciences LLC, a two year-old company near Atlanta, is licensing the exosome transfer technology from the lab of Michael Chopp at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Exosomes are tiny — 40 to 150 nanometer — lipid-membrane containers in cells that gather up and secrete cytoplasm, the gel-like material outside the cell nucleus. While originally believed to carry out waste removal and other maintenance tasks, exosomes were shown in recent years to perform useful delivery functions carrying proteins and genetic material to other cells, and drawing increased attention from a range of biological disciplines.

Chopp is a neurologist at Henry Ford Health System and scientific director of its Neuroscience Institute. His lab at Henry Ford studies exosomes as vehicles for delivering therapeutics for stroke and traumatic brain injuries. In April 2018, Chopp and fellow Henry Ford neurologist Jieli Chen, published a paper in the journal Stroke, outlining methods and documenting previous studies for using exosomes derived from an individual’s mesenchymal stromal cells — similar to stem cells — to deliver personalized treatments for stroke.

Among the treatments for stroke that can be delivered with exosomes, according to Chopp and Chen, is micro RNAs, genetic molecules that serve as regulators of the genome. Micro RNAs start out small, but evolve into more complex molecules that interact with another type of RNA — messenger RNA — to control the expression of genes responding to various proteins. Chen led a study published in 2017, with Chopp as co-author, showing micro RNAs reduced neuroinflammation in lab rodents induced with stroke from diabetes. A separate study co-authored by Chopp and published last year shows molecules acting like micro RNAs reduce peripheral nerve damage in mice induced with type 2 diabetes.

“Our studies in multiple pre-clinical models,” says Chopp in a NeuroTrauma Sciences statement, “indicate that exosomes have the potential to provide significant therapeutic benefits to enhance the recovery from stroke or traumatic brain injury, and potentially with a better safety profile and greater efficacy than their parent or progenitor cells. Success of this novel approach may lead to a shift in the treatment paradigm for TBI, stroke and neurological disease.”

For this agreement, NeuroTrauma Sciences is forming a separate subsidiary called NeurExo Sciences to advance exosome-delivered micro RNAs as therapies for stroke, nerve damage, and traumatic brain injuries such as concussions. NeurExo Sciences is receiving a worldwide license to develop treatments for these disorders. The company is also funding further research on exosomes by Chopp’s lab, and will receive the rights to findings from the studies it sponsors.

Up to now, NeuroTrauma Sciences operated largely in stealth mode. The Alpharetta, Georgia company, founded in 2016, lists its executives on its web site, but does not identify its investors and gives few details about its work.

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