Newly Discovered Exomere May Help Explain Cancer's Spread

Researchers have discovered a cellular messenger, dubbed the exomere,  that may help explain how cancer cells spread through the body.

Using a technique called asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4), researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine showed it is possible to sort the nano-sized particles that are secreted by cancer cells and contain DNA, RNA, fats, and proteins. In doing so, the researchers were able to separate two distinct exosome subtypes and identify the exomere.

The work revealed that the newly discovered exomere is the most predominant particle secreted by cancer cells. Unlike the larger exosomes, exomeres generally fuse with cells in bone marrow and the liver, where they can alter immune function and metabolism of drugs. The research suggests that exomeres target the liver to alter its metabolic function in favor of tumor growth.

Based on findings, the scientists speculate that the next phase in cancer detection may be to measure exosomes and exomeres in plasma samples to help predict which organs are targeted for metastasis.

To learn more, see the team's news release as well as the published findings in Nature Cell Biology.