Extracellular vesicles (exosomes) as biomarker treasure chests and their function and therapeutic applications in prostate cancer
All cells secrete small extracellular vesicles (EVs) that contain RNA, metabolites and protein from their host. From the number and content of plasma and urine EVs, the presence of disease can be determined. Besides their biomarker potential, the role of EVs in cancer progression and their use as therapeutic agents is being explored. (Guido Jenster)
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) function in PCa
EVs are emerging as important factors in the formation of a pre-metastatic niche. Improved understanding of their exact role and the development of strategies that inhibit EV mediated communication will provide opportunities for novel therapeutic strategies to inhibit prostate cancer growth and metastasis. (Martin van Royen)
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) as cancer biomarkers
Tumor EVs are important sources for biomarkers to characterize (malignant) cells from which they originate and can be found in body fluids including urine. With this in mind we developed EVQuant, a high-throughput microscopy assay for analysis of individual EVs. We will develop it further as minimally-invasive method for diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer. (Martin van Royen)
Novel nanobodies against cancer
Antibodies are an essential tool for diagnosis, imaging and treatment of cancer. Surprisingly, very few cancer-specific antibodies are available and we have developed a unique pipeline to select small antibodies (nanobodies) that recognize a specific (cancer) cell type. Generating unique nanobodies against urological cancers will provide novel tools to diagnose and treat disease. (Guido Jenster)
NEXT – Nucleic acid delivery by bioengineered extracellular vesicles for prostate cancer treatment
“Utilizing nature’s “stealth” bubbles for drug delivery and gene therapy against prostate cancer”
Within NEXT, the Department of Urology joins efforts and know-how with experts from the biotech companies ExoVectory and Getinge to develop and test a novel proof-of-concept therapeutic formula to suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells: bioengineered extracellular vesicles (beEVs) for the intracellular delivery of nucleic acids.
Nucleic acid-based therapeutics (NTAs) hold strong potential against modern diseases. They have the ability to target protein noncoding genes and transcripts, have high specificity and durable effects. With technology improvements, the number of approved NTA-drugs is increasing but clinical translation is restricted by their suboptimal delivery in vivo. This “TNA-delivery challenge” is caused by the large size and negative charge, as well as by the susceptibility od nucleic acids to enzymatic degradation in the body. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) voice an answer to the TNA-delivery challenge.
The ambition of the three and a half year project, led by Dr Martens-Uzunova, is to pave the road to a new anticancer modality and enable the further maturation of nucleic acid-based therapeutics to ultimately create impact in the combat against PCa and other cancers. (Elena S. Martens-Uzunova)
People working on the project
Martin van Royen