Kentucky’s Patent of the Month – October 2020
Worldwide, one in five people will develop cancer and one in six will fall victim to it. Cancer is constantly mutating and evolving, so making a specific diagnoses is hard to do; but we are evolving with it. Huang-Ge Zhang, with the University of Louisville (UofL), has developed a new revolutionary system for the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. The method involves the collection and isolation of nanovesicles (i.e. tiny sacs released by cells that carry chemical messages – our body’s natural delivery vehicle) from a patient’s biological sample. It’s like the nanovesicles are the operating board between us and our own cells. The UofL is making a connection and listening to what our cells have to say.
We are multicellular organisms and rely heavily on intercellular communications. An important source of this communication is extracellular microvesicles (EVs), those little sacs we mentioned earlier. Recent research has shown that understanding the number and type of EVs in a cell can improve cancer diagnostic methods. But, there are many different types of EVs, so it’s difficult to determine which EVs are the most abundant in a patient sample. Exomes (part of the human genome) are the main group of EVs in a body; however, it’s hard to characterize the different exomes using current isolation methods. In addition, the data collected from in vitro analysis methods may not fully represent what happens in the body.
The method developed by UofL includes studying nanovesicles from a biological sample, such as blood or urine. Exomes are then isolated by targeting nanovesicles of certain size and charge requirements. The UofL then determines the amount of nanovesicles in the sample along with other measures, such as lipids, peptides, and RNA molecules. They use this information to assess the likelihood of different cancers, by comparing this sample to a control and to develop tailored treatment plans.
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