Exosome RNA sequencing as a tool in the search for cancer biomarkers

Numerous noninvasive methods are currently being used to determine biomarkers for diseases such as cancer. However, these methods are not always precise and reliable. Thus, there is an unmet need for better diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers that will be used to diagnose cancer in early, more treatable stages of the disease. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles of endocytic origin released by the majority of cells. Exosomes contain and transport nucleic acids, proteins, growth factors, and cytokines from their parent cells to surrounding or even distant cells via circulation in biofluids. Exosomes have attracted the interest of researchers, as recent data indicate that exosome content may be indicative of disease stages and may contribute to disease progression via exosome-mediated extracellular communication. Therefore, the contents of these vesicles are being investigated as possible biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis. The functions of exosomes and their contents in disease development are becoming clearer as isolation and analytical methods, such as RNA sequencing, advance. Researchers from Nova Southeastern University discuss current advances and challenges in exosomal content analyses with emphasis on information that can be generated using RNA sequencing. They also discuss how the RNA sequencing of exosomes may be used to discover novel biomarkers for the detection of different stages for various cancers using specific microRNAs that were found to be differentially expressed between healthy controls and cancer-diagnosed subjects.

Schematic representation detailing the discovery of biomarkers from exosomes

They are found in and isolated from bodily fluids. The various RNA species from these exosomes are subjected to RNA seq using next-generation sequencing (NGS) to identify potential biomarkers for clinical applications.

Elkommos-Zakhary M, Rajesh N, Beljanski V. (2022) Exosome RNA Sequencing as a Tool in the Search for Cancer Biomarkers. Non-Coding RNA 8(6), 75. [article]

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