Basic Exosome Research

Exosomes research began with the assumption these tiny vesicles were a form of cellular-waste management. In light of overwhelming evidence, we now appreciate exosomes as a unique form of extracellular communication. Whereas typical signaling pathways involve the transmission and reception of single molecules, exosomes represent a type of macromolecular signaling vehicle, transporting nucleic acids, proteins and phospholipids as bioactive messengers.  

Understanding the mechanisms behind exosome biogenesis, cargo sorting and selection, release and reception is the primary focus of most basic research at this early stage in, what may be known as, the era of exosomes. What are the conditions under which cells upregulate the production of exosomes? Why are certain molecules electively sorted into newly formed exosomes? What rules govern the targeting of exosomes across cell types? These questions and more, are currently under investigation, and their answers will shed new light on the once-misunderstood messengers.

Essential to the reliability and robustness of any research into exosomes, whether collected from liquid biopsy or cell culture, is the isolation method. Techniques for exosome isolation have proliferated almost as rapidly as the tumor cells that release them! Faster, cheaper, kit-based methods are easy to find, but the most reliable method for isolation of intact exosomes is differential ultracentrifugation with an iodixanol gradient. When reliable results are required, as is the case with most basic research, choose a trusted partner with expertise in ultracentrifugation: Beckman Coulter. 


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