UF neurosurgery researcher receives grant for glioblastoma study 

Brent Reynolds, Ph.D., a professor in the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery in the University of Florida College of Medicine, has received a $250,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health Live Like Bella® Pediatric Cancer Research Initiative to research a new method of treatment for glioblastoma.   

Brent Reynolds
Brent Reynolds, Ph.D.

Glioblastoma is the most common adult brain tumor and has a poor prognosis. Advancements in surgical, radiation and new chemotherapy protocols have increased mean survival to 9 to 12 months with a five-year survival of less than 5%. There are few chemotherapy options, partially due to the blood-brain barrier. 

Reynolds’ lab and others have demonstrated that bone morphogenic protein-4 can inhibit the growth of glioblastoma and target the cancer stem cell pool. These studies have led to a multicenter phase I dose-escalation trial in patients with glioblastoma using convection-enhanced delivery.  

Although the preliminary results of this trial have been promising, the delivery of the protein in this manner has limitations, Reynolds said. His lab is working on alternative strategies to deliver the protein to the central nervous system and tumor cells would that improve this novel therapeutic approach. 

The team has isolated key cellular particles called extracellular vesicles from the hemp plant and found them to be efficient at supplying drugs to the central nervous system via intranasal and oral delivery. In the current proposal, his lab intends to test the hypothesis that hemp extracellular vesicles can be loaded with the bone morphogenic protein-4 and used to transfer it to the brain at levels that will reduce glioma tumor growth.    

“This approach may also show promise in delivering other chemotherapy drugs to the molecules in the brain to treat different brain tumors and neurological disorders,” said Reynolds, who is a member of the Cancer Center’s Cancer Therapeutics & Host Response research program. “The use of hemp-derived extracellular vesicles is also important because these molecules can overcome some of the shortcomings of using animal exosomes or synthetic nanoparticles as delivery vehicles.”  

Reynolds is collaborating on the project with Loic Deleyrolle, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of neurosurgery, and Nasser Koopaei, a graduate of the UF doctoral program in pharmaceutics who is CEO of EriVan Bio, a UF biotech spinout at the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator

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