By using cutting-edge technology, researchers were able to discover a new nanoparticle dubbed as exomere.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, scientists from the Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University explained how they used an advanced technique to separate two distinct exosome subtypes to discover exomere.
“By employing asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4), we identified two exosome subpopulations … and discovered an abundant population of non-membranous nanoparticles termed ‘exomeres’ ,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
The technique, called asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) has allowed the researchers to sort the exosome nanoparticles. These particles are secreted by cancer cells and contain DNA, RNA, fats, and proteins.By using asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation, researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical College at @Cornell University have discovered exomere, a new #nanoparticle secreted by cancer cells.Click To Tweet
“We found that exomeres are the most predominant particle secreted by cancer cells,” Dr. David Lyden, a Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and senior author of the study, said.
“They are smaller and structurally and functionally distinct from exosomes. Exomeres largely fuse with cells in the bone marrow and liver, where they can alter immune function and metabolism of drugs. The latter finding may explain why many cancer patients are unable to tolerate even small doses of chemotherapy due to toxicity.”
The Nanoparticle Exomere
As compared to a small exosome (Exo-S), whose diameter ranges between 60-80 nanometers and a large exosome (Exo-L) that is around 90-120 nanometers in diameter, an exomere is said to measure less than 50 nanometers in diameter.
“Exosomes and exomeres also have different biophysical characteristics, such as stiffness and electric charge, that likely affect their behavior in the body,” Dr. Haiying Zhang, lead author of the study, said. “The more rigid the particle, the easier it is likely taken up by cells, rendering exomeres, which are stiffer than exosomes, the more effective messengers of transferring tumor information to recipient cells.”
What’s even more interesting is that exosomes and exomeres have different effects on cancer.
According to the researchers, Exo-L may promote metastasis to lymph nodes while Exo-S may support distant metastasis.
On the other hand, the exomeres act as carriers of metabolic enzymes that travel to the liver, an organ which is significant in breaking down drugs into nontoxic forms.
The study also suggests that exomeres target the liver to reprogram its metabolic function and expedite tumor progression.
Aside from that, the scientists also discovered that exomeres carry blood-clotting factors to the liver which affects the organ’s function in regulating clotting.
“Cancer is truly a systemic disease that requires multi-organ involvement to progress. Our finding that tumor cells secrete these three distinct nanoparticles, that then target cells in different organs reflects this important aspect of the disease,” Dr. Lynden further said.
It has been reported that Cornell University has already filed a patent application for the technology that has been used by its researchers to conduct their study.
Dr. Lynden and his colleagues will now proceed with studying how the different cell messengers are being developed, what sort of molecules are they carrying, and what roles they play once they reach their target organs.
“Understanding these characteristics may help scientists better understand how exomeres and exosomes help cancers grow and spread to other organs, as well as what role they may play in other diseases.” ~ Dr. Haiying Zhang
The researchers believe that the technique that they developed would be beneficial in studying “complex nanoparticle populations,” citing that it may help improve diagnostic tests if used as biomarkers.