Surakshya Shrestha

“A microRNA delivery system to induce bone repair by mesenchymal stem cells”

Co-supervisors: John Forsythe

Surakshya has a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Purbanchal University, Nepal with a higher distinction. She received her Master’s degree by research in Polymer Materials from Zhejiang University, China, in 2016. During her study, she investigated the interaction of nanoparticles/nanomaterials in terms of different composition and surface chemistry on mouse mesenchymal stromal cells fate under the supervision of Prof. Changyou Gao and Prof. Zhengwei Mao. The findings from her research resulted in two different first authored paper, both published in Journal of Material Chemistry B. Towards the end of her master study; she got an opportunity to visit Prof. Ciro Isidoro’s Lab, Laboratory of Molecular Pathology and Nanobioimaging in University del Piemonte Orientale, Italy for three months under the scheme of Marie Curie IRSES, during which she synthesised fluorescent labelled PLGA nanoparticles and investigated their internalisation and co-localisation in different cancer cell types.

At the end of 2017, she joined the Frith Lab at Monash University as a PhD student working on improving the current bone tissue engineering strategies through the delivery of osteogenic miRNAs within a 3D hydrogel. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) combined with hydrogels show tremendous promise for bone tissue engineering but their efficient differentiation remains a challenge. This is due to mismatch between mechanical cues sensed by MSCs from inherent softness of hydrogels and mechanotransductive cues provided by hard bone tissue. The ability of microRNAs (miRNAs) to modulate osteogenic differentiation of MSCs is emerging as a powerful approach to improve bone regeneration within these soft hydrogels. However, appropriate miRNA selection and delivery strategy still needs optimisation to achieve a fully functional bone tissue. Therefore to address these issues, this project aims to investigate strong osteogenic miRNA candidates and deliver them through an efficient delivery vector to improve the MSCs osteogenesis within 3D hydrogels targeted towards improved bone regeneration applications.