Cutting-Edge Technology Enables Identification of Novel Nanoparticles (Exomeres) Released by Cancer Cells and Similar to Exosomes, But Smaller and with Different Functions

A new cellular messenger discovered by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists may help reveal how cancer cells co-opt the body’s intercellular delivery service to spread to new locations in the body. In a paper published online on February 19, 2018 in Nature Cell Biology, the scientists show that a cutting-edge technique called asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) can efficiently sort nano-sized particles, called exosomes, that are secreted by cancer cells and contain DNA, RNA, fats, and proteins. This technology allowed the investigators to separate two distinct exosome subtypes and discover a new nanoparticle, which they named an “exomere.” The article is titled "Identification of Distinct Nanoparticles and Subsets of Extracellular Vesicles by Asymmetric Flow Field-Flow Fractionation." Also published online on February 19, 2018 was a description of the protocol used to identify the nanoparticles. “We found that exomeres are the most predominant particle secreted by cancer cells,” said senior author Dr. David Lyden, the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology, and a scientist in the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center and the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health at Weill Cornell Medicine. “They are smaller and structurally and functionally distinct from exosomes. Exomeres largely fuse with cells in the bone marrow and liver, where they can alter immune function and metabolism of drugs.
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