Recently it has been demonstrated that cancer pathology is dramatically mediated by cellular vesicle transport machinery via a number of key proteins, lipids, small molecules, and non-coding RNAs trafficked in exosomes and related nanoscale extracellular vesicles (EVs). Sensitive and specific detection of the cell-specific biomaterials recruited and packaged in EVs has the potential to revolutionize identification and monitoring of cancer, particularly for those types lacking early screening. However, current methods for phenotyping EVs released into blood circulation cannot readily distinguish tumor-associated from non-tumor associated vesicles. Our group examines tumor EVs using two separate but related modalities. The first is at the resolution of single vesicles using optical tweezers combined with spontaneous Raman spectroscopy. We demonstrate that tumor-released EVs can be readily distinguished from healthy ones using wholly label-free analysis. By extending to include near-simultaneous fluorescence measurement, various subpopulations of EVs shared amongst cell types and biofluid sources can be readily detected. The second modality is the use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) via Raman-tagged antibody-decorated gold nanoparticles, both for optically-trapped single EVs and also in bulk preparations. In this talk, the culmination of these research directions will be presented, focusing on the presence of EV subpopulations and their role in cancer diagnostics.
Speaker: Randy Carney, UC Davis
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