EVs and Cancer

The sustained growth, invasion and development of secondary malignant growth of cancer cells at another site depends upon the cell-to-cell communication within our body. Such communication involves the released of extracellular vesicles by cancer cells and/or connective tissues cells which contain regulatory molecules that contribute to cell-to-cell communication within the tumour microenvironment.

Extracellular vesicles carry molecules such as proteins, lipids, RNA species (for example, microRNAs, mRNAs, and long non-coding RNAs), and DNA fragments from donor to recipient cells, which initiate phenotypic changes in the tumour microenvironment.

What EVs do in cancer?

It is known that cancer cells release more EVs than their nonmalignant counterparts and the release of EVs has shown to influence many process associated with cancer progression.

Exosomes, a type of EVs that has been largely studied by the EV field, has shown to take part in signalling between tumour cells and the microenvironment which aids the development of the pre-metastatic niche and facilitates tumour progression.

Microvesicles released by cancer cells has shown to contribute to cellular survival by help cancer cells to escape from intracellular stress; facilitate cancer invasiveness by degrading the extracellular matrix; support and trigger angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels) by forming fibrin protein to protect the tumour against immune attacks and releasing microvesicles containing mRNA encoding growth factors; and facilitate adherence of cancer cells to the vessel wall.

How EVs can be used in cancer research and how it can change the world?

It is evident that EVs are central to an abundance cellular processes thus the knowledge of the processes that govern EV biology is essential to shed light on the physiological and pathological functions of EVs, and their great potential in clinical applications such as diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic treatment. Because the release of EVs into body fluids can increase cellular activation as well as in many pathologic conditions, the amount of EVs released may indicate the presence of an abnormal process. In the aspects of diagnostics, EVs in biological fluids can be used as biomarkers to provide an indication of the systemic health status which can be used in clinical settings. Since EVs have a great potential in monitoring cancer progression, EV and cancer research is so important nowadays not only because the studies of the cell biology of EVs address cell biological questions, but also to open new avenues for their future clinical use as biomarkers in cancer diagnosis, as cargo vehicles for targeted drug delivery or as specific modulators of cell behaviours.

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