Increasing evidences indicate that the release of a great numbers of exosomes by tumour cells play a key role in tumour progression, drug resistance, immune surveillance escape, angiogenesis, tumour invasion and metastasis. For this reason, cancer-derived exosomes are emerging as very interesting targets for cancer therapy and diagnosis. In particular, extracellular exosomes may have great potential as early diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Early screening methods for breast cancer are mainly based on instrumental tests, that may cause in many cases a failure to reach particular categories of patients. This failure could be overcome with the availability of specific and predictive circulating biomarkers allowing non-invasive earliest tumour detection on a larger scale of patients. Indeed, progresses in developing nucleic acids-based therapeutic compounds, including antisense DNAs, aptamers, short interfering/microRNAs, and short activator RNAs, have attracted great interest as emerging platforms for precise cancer treatment. Dr Quintavalle has identified aptamers that specifically recognize BC-released exosomes and are able to discriminate between breast cancer derived exosome and glioma or lung cancer derived exosomes. Preliminary data indicates also that these aptamers are able to block the internalization of MDA231 derived exosome on MDA231 cells. To develop a new diagnostic and therapeutic strategy, Dr Quintavalle will aim to exploit the identified aptamers to design an innovative aptamer-based sandwich assay for their specific detection in patient blood samples. Moreover, since the inhibition of cancer exosome uptake by surrounding healthy tissues and organs would represent an effective strategy to interfere with tumour spreading and development, Dr. Quintavalle will aim to generate an affinity plasmapheresis system by using BC specific aptamers for specifically remove BC-derived exosome from patient blood.
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