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Finding Genius Podcast: Chasing Extracellular Vesicles in Cancer

Richard Jacobs, host of the "Finding Genius Podcast," recently interviewed Dolores Di Vizio, MD, PhD, professor of Surgery, Biomedical Sciences and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, about extracellular vesicles, small pockets of cellular material that are released by tumor cells into the bloodstream and promote the spread of cancer.

Di Vizio explained that extracellular vesicles have gained attention in the last decade because they contain proteins and other biologically important molecules whose information can be transferred from cell to cell, including material from cancerous tumors.

"This is what makes these vesicles also a very attractive source for biomarkers," Di Vizio told Jacobs.

Extracellular vesicles help cancer spread to distant sites in the body, Di Vizio said, but it's unclear how this happens.

As part of her research, Di Vizio is studying how a large extracellular vesicle from prostate cancer cells plays a role in that disease. She also is working with bone marrow stem cells, because bone marrow is a major site for cancer spread.

Her latest study findings, published June 10 in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, suggest that in the future, a blood test involving extracellular vesicles might be used to diagnose cancer, avoiding the need for invasive surgical biopsies. Extracellular vesicles also might help determine the stages of disease, the potential for cancer to become metastatic, and may potentially reveal results of therapy.

Di Vizio told Jacobs that she and her fellow researchers are trying to better understand these processes so they can help certain therapeutics target specific organs for treatment.

Click here to listen to the complete “Finding Genius Podcast” episode.