Alexander Otahal works at the Department for Health Sciences, Medicine and Research, and received the award for his dissertation titled "Characterization of extracellular vesicles in different blood products and cytoprotective effects in osteoarthritic chondrocytes".
The Award of Excellence honors special dissertations from the year before and since 2008 it has been handed out annually to 40 award winners. In this way, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research expresses its recognition of the best dissertations. For the first time, the University for Continuing Education Krems was eligible to participate this year and nominated Alexander Otahal, PhD, Post-Doc at the Department for Health Sciences, Medicine and Research, for the Award.
This year in April, Otahal defended his dissertation "Characterization of extracellular vesicles in different blood products and cytoprotective effects in osteoarthritic chondrocytes" at the University for Continuing Education Krems to be subsequently awarded the prize. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official ceremony was cancelled this year. Therefore, all winners received the certificate and the commemorative publication by mail. The State Prize is financed by the Student Support Program and endowed with 3,000 Euros.
Supporting regenerative processes in the body with vesicles
In his work, Alexander Otahal investigated the regenerative effect of extracellular vesicles in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis affects approximately two-thirds of the population over the age of 65 worldwide and is characterized by progressive degradation of cartilage. A new regenerative therapeutic approach is the use of products derived from the patient's blood. Among these, citrate-anticoagulated platelet-rich plasma (CPRP) and hypACT™ serum are among the most promising. In his work, Otahal investigated the role of extracellular vesicles have during regenerative processes. Considered as a new approach to understanding the communications between cells, extracellular vesicles are a key component of regenerative processes. These vesicles transport bioactive molecules from one cell to another, where they trigger specific biological responses. The project’s objective was to isolate and characterize extracellular vesicles from two blood products, CPRP and hypACT™ serum, to subsequently determine their regenerative potential when fighting osteoarthritis by treating cartilage cells obtained from tissue donations of osteoarthritis patients.
Developing new therapeutic approaches
"The results of my work show that vesicles alone are sufficient to inhibit inflammatory responses of cartilage cells, as well as to promote cartilage-specific gene expression. The findings may help to develop innovative regenerative therapeutic approaches to treat osteoarthritis. Therefore, I am very pleased to receive the Award of Excellence in recognition of my work," said Alexander Otahal, an expert in regenerative medicine.