Wednesday, March 14, 2012

At Pittcon 2012: Are exosomes biomarkers? Laser-based bionanoparticle tracking helps to answer

In a meeting with NanoSight (Salisbury, UK) CEO Jeremy Warren, I learned that research in exosomes has increased dramatically over the past five years. Not yet well understood, exosomes are 30-100 nm particles that cells “purposefully and systematically shed into the bloodstream.”

At Pittcon 2012--happening this week in Orlando, FL--NanoSight is touting its reportedly unique (photonics based) ability to facilitate research in this area, which has taken off thanks to recent recognition of exosomes as potential biomarkers. The particles appear to be involved in cell signaling, Warren says: They carry signaling proteins as well as messenger and microRNAs. Circulating levels of exosomes are found to be elevated in various disorders, including cancer, atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, hematological and inflammatory diseases, and diabetes.

Exosome research has reportedly been constrained by a lack of suitable characterization methods, but NanoSight says that its nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) technology is unique in allowing direct, individual visualization and counting of specific exosomes in liquid suspension in real time: Laser light illuminates the particles, and a video camera captures the scattering.

Stay tuned for more news from Pittcon 2012...