Human cells, whether healthy or damaged, are able to communicate with each other by secreting small vesicles packed with a sophisticated cargo of functional proteins and RNAs. The signals coming from a healthy cell are part of what allows life to flourish. The signals being sent by damaged cells, meanwhile, are under scrutiny as a possible source for the spread of cancer and other diseases. One Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine scientist is zeroing in on establishing how the cargo of those tiny vesicles, known as exosomes, is reorganized when cancer is present. David Meckes (photo), Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences, believes he is close to understanding how the antagonist in the reorganization does its work. According to a June 3, 2016 FSU press release, Dr. Meckes has received a $1.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health to further examine his theory. His research could point to more effective and less harmful ways to treat diseases such as cancer. “In this study, we hope to advance understanding of how a cancer-causing virus modulates the production and functions of exosomes,” Dr. Meckes said. “These questions are not only significant to the fields of oncogenic viruses and extracellular vesicles, but also to general aspects of cancer biology, including cell growth, transformation, and metastasis.” The study of exosomes is part of a young and rapidly expanding field of research, and Dr. Meckes has already published significant findings that led to his current study.
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