Cancer Researchers Investigate How Cells Communicate Using Exosomes, with Special Focus on Increased Exosome Production by Glioblastoma Cells After Chemical Stimulation

by Zehui (Lesley) Li. (The following article was authored by Zehui (Lesley) Li (photo), a PhD student in the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences Biomedical Science Program. Lesley is studying chemical messengers between cells and how they can potentially be used to treat cancer. Lesley is doing her research in the laboratory of William Maltese, PhD, in the Department of Cancer Biology. Lesley's article first appeared in Toledo’s "The Blade" newspaper on December 31, 2017, and is reprinted here with permission. Lesley’s article from The Blade follows here): Cells are the basic structural units that are used to build all of the organs in your body. A surface membrane surrounds each cell, just as your skin surrounds you. The cell membrane controls the entry and exit of different things, including food and specific molecules that can change the rate of cell growth and division. One way that the cell membrane can bring in other molecules is within small bubble-like structures that pinch off and move inside the cell. Such bubbles are called endosomes (inside cell). Once [formed] inside the cell, each endosome can make even smaller bubbles within it. These smaller bubbles are called intraluminal vesicles (ILVs). These ILVs are so small that they can only be seen using a very high-powered microscope. Scientists have now discovered that endosomes can return to the cell surface, where they fuse back with the cell membrane and release small ILV bubbles outside the cell. Once they leave the cell, the tiny bubbles are called exosomes (outside cell). These exosomes float in your body fluid and eventually attach to other cell membranes and enter the new cell. After they move in, molecules inside of the bubbles will be released into the new cell to affect cell growth and other cell activities.
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