All cells in the human body secrete extracellular vesicles (EVs), tiny membrane-enclosed sacs that deliver important cargo – including RNA, proteins, lipids and DNA – to other cells. Cancer cells, notorious for rapid growth, are prolific EV creators.
Neuroimmunology researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus studied the EVs from two types of brain cancer – glioblastoma, the deadliest brain tumor, and meningioma, a more common benign central nervous system tumor that has significant recurrence rates. In a recent study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, they identified peptides that bind to specific subpopulations of EVs from glioblastoma tumors.
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“Our hypothesis was that those EVs from cancer cells may be important in terms of triggering the cancer’s growth,” said Xiaoli Yu, PhD, an associate research professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She collaborated on the National Institutes of Health-funded study with Michael Graner, PhD, a research professor in neurosurgery and University of Colorado Cancer Center member.
Here, Yu explains the CU Anschutz resources that aided their research as well as the implications their findings have for brain tumor patients.
This interview has been edited and condensed.