Extracellular vesicles and their potential as biomarkers and therapeutics

Jan O. Lötvall 1,
1University of Gothenburg, Sweden; 

All cells in the body release multiple types of extracellular vesi- cles (EVs), including exosomes, microvesicles and beyond. In 2007 we discovered that exosomes contain both mRNA and microRNA that can be shuttled from one cell to another (Valadi et al., 2007), which was a very surprising finding at the time. Different cells release EVs with different molecular cargos, and each cell type can even change their EV cargo under different conditions, such as stress or cancer transformation. This impor- tant feature of EVs has made them very interesting candidates as biomarkers in disease. Indeed, both RNA and DNA EV cargo, as well as EV proteins, can be utilized as diagnostics, and to monitor disease, which will be reviewed in the presentation.
The ability of EVs to shuttle RNA and other molecules from one cell to the cytoplasm of another cell has also open up the opportunity to highjack this natural system to deliver therapeutic molecules to diseased cells, where current biological treatments such as antibodies are unable to reach. This opens up the oppor- tunity to develop treatments for different diseases, for example targeting oncogenes with microRNA or siRNA molecules, that otherwise cannot easily penetrate the cell membrane. This new category of biological treatments has the opportunity to open up a totally new way to reach previously unreachable disease targets, with molecules that otherwise would not reach the ideal disease target. This part of the presentation will thus describe the pos- sibilities of EV-based therapeutics in different diseases, and give examples of models where this approach has been successful in experimental models.

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