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A ‘supermere’ method for biomarker discovery

Apr. 6, 2023, 9:15 AM

by Bill Snyder

Cells in the body communicate by sending and receiving protein and genetic information packaged in extracellular vesicles and nanoparticles, including exomeres and supermeres. 

This complex transport system is important not only in health, but in disorders as diverse as cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. For example, cancer-derived supermeres may amplify resistance to chemotherapy drugs by delivering genetic instructions carried in their RNA cargo to other cancer cells.  

Until recently it has been difficult to distinguish one nanoparticle from another and to identify their cargo. Reporting in Nature Protocols, Qin Zhang, PhD, Dennis Jeppesen, PhD, Robert Coffey, MD, and colleagues describe a method for sequentially isolating extracellular vesicles and nanoparticles from human cell lines and plasma.  

The method includes density-gradient centrifugation, and albumin depletion to remove albumin protein that masks other, less abundant proteins. This approach, the researchers conclude, will improve biomarker discovery and the identification of therapeutic targets.

Co-authors of the paper include James Higginbotham, PhD, and Jeffrey Franklin, PhD.  

The research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants CA197570, CA241685, CA229123, and CA236733, and by the Nicholas Tierney GI Cancer Memorial Fund.

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