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Dr. Di Vizio studies extracellular vesicles and their role in cancer. In this podcast, she explains what we know about the mechanism of extracellular vesicles and what challenges still stand in fully understanding their roles.

She discusses

  • The basic makeup of extracellular vesicles, a history of their discovery, and the variety of types and sizes;
  • The difference between studying extracellular vesicles activity in vitro versus in animal models; and
  • The roles of extracellular vesicles for cancer diagnosis and therapeutics.

Dr. Dolores Di Vizio is a professor of Surgery, Biomedical Sciences and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cedars-Sinai. She explains for listeners the fundamentals of extracellular vesicles, also known as EVs. They’re small pockets of cellular material covered by a lipid layer released by all cells in the body.

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They become important mechanisms for intercellular communication because they can reach the blood. Scientists find them very appealing targets for biomarkers in liquid biopsies. She explains that most EV studies have occurred with a large concentration of these vesicles, so the effects often reveal as significant. Now as scientists look at animal models without an excess of the EVs, the results are a lot harder to verify and understand. 

She describes the variety and types of EVs, like exosomes, and delves into her own research into exosomes and cancer. She’s working on studies to see how a large EV from prostate cancer cells, known as oncosomes, plays a role in prostate cancer with gene alterations and transcription factors that seem to facilitate tumor progression. Her lab is also working with bone marrow stem cells, as bone marrow is a major site for metastases.

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They’re trying to understand these interaction better so researchers can prepare natural vesicles for therapeutics and make them go to a specific organ for treatment rather than another location.

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Her lab is also working on clinical tests for cancer treatment, identifying cancer-specific biomarkers enclosed in EVs to be applied to a clinical setting. This could identify signs of cancer, stages of disease, the potential for cancer to became metastatic, and reveal results of therapy. 

For more, see her lab’s website:

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