Ryan Porter, Ph.D.

Title: Extracellular vesicles as therapeutic vehicles for chondroprotection

The overarching goal of this project is to better define the therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles (MSC-EVs) for post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) through an improved understanding of the factors regulating their cargo delivery to chondrocytes and other synovial joint cells. One major goal is to test whether cartilage glycosaminoglycan depletion, a more immediate and reversible change to the cartilage matrix than collagen loss, impacts MSC-EV cargo delivery to chondrocytes. Another major goal is to determine how EV delivery to cartilage is influenced by MSC-EV surface charge through altered electrostatic interactions with the cartilage matrix. A final major goal is to identify chondrocyte genes that control MSC-EV cargo delivery through a genome-wide gain-of-function screen employing CRISPR activation.

Ryan Porter is currently Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He earned degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kentucky (BSc) and Virginia Tech (MSc, PhD), with a graduate program emphasis in Biomedical Engineering. Ryan received his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School with Prof. Christopher Evans at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). In 2012, Ryan became research faculty in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at BIDMC. He moved to UAMS in late 2017, joining the Departments of Internal Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery. Ryan has been actively involved in the Orthopaedic Research Society, including the recently-formed ORS Preclinical Models Section.

Dr. Porter’s mentors

Christopher H. Evans, Ph.D., is using his background in cell and molecular biology to solve clinical problems involving bones and joints. Gene therapy is his major, but not sole, technology platform. Research in Dr. Evans’ Musculoskeletal Gene Therapy Research Laboratory has two main focuses: arthritis and tissue regeneration. The development of a gene therapy for arthritis is at an advanced preclinical stage, and the goal is to eventually initiate human clinical trials. Tissue regeneration focuses on bone healing and cartilage repair. This work is currently at a preclinical stage.

Peter Crooks, Ph.D. Simmons Chair in Cancer Research, Professor and Chairman. Dr. Crooks is internationally recognized for his research and work in anticancer drug discovery, delivery, and development. He leads a research team to discover and develop new cancer treatment drugs with an emphasis on lymphoma and leukemia; to develop radiation agents to improve patient outcomes after radiation therapy; and to develop new pain medication to treat acute and chronic pain. He also has an active program in drug abuse which focuses on the development of new treatments for methamphetamine, nicotine and alcohol addictions.