In a July 20, 2021 news release, it was announced that University of Houston engineering researcher Wei-Chuan Shih, PhD, has been awarded $2.7 million from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to detect cancer biomarkers in blood by counting exosomes (image). Known as "liquid biopsy," the process, which requires only a simple blood draw, can improve the accuracy of measuring nearly invisible minimal residual disease (MRD) in cancer tumors. Circulating tumor exosomes (CTEs) are excreted by cancer cells and contain surface proteins and genetic materials (DNA and RNA) that reflect the characteristics and make-up of the parental cell. Cancerous tumors send them off into the bloodstream in mass quantities. A CTE assay is virtually non-invasive and can be performed at small clinics more frequently than tissue biopsy. Therefore, it could provide "real-time" tumor status monitoring with respect to treatment and for MRD applications. Unlocking the wealth of information in CTEs can potentially cause a paradigm shift."
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