Our lab has its research focus on the development of cell-based therapies for the treatment of encephalopathy of prematurity that leads to severe neonatal morbidity and mortality and to long-term neurological deficits. The therapy of the very vulnerable premature neonates requires therapeutic approaches that are safe, efficient and noninvasive. Perinatal tissues, such as the umbilical cord, and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) derived from them are promising sources for a number of disorders in the neonate, including neurodegenerative diseases. Extracellular vesicles (EV) secreted by perinatal cells and the molecules associated with them (e.g. microRNAs) are involved in the regulation of pathophysiological pathways and have the potential to act as therapeutic agents. To better understand the pathophysiology of the disease, we currently also investigate the specific role of reactive astrocytes in the disease pathogenesis and are looking into biomarkers that could facilitate the screening for premature neonates that are at risk for the development of neurologic sequelae.
The research is supported by the following institutions: Swiss National Science Foundation, Eagle Foundation, Research Fund of the University Hospital Bern / Inselspital, Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation, SGGG-Bayer Research Grant and other foundations.