During the fall months of cancer campaigning, perhaps the biggest awareness remains in shadow: it is not yet possible to prevent patients from receiving needless treatment. As it stands, conservative estimates have determined that greater than 50% of men and women undergo unnecessary surgery and chemotherapy. Many cancers do not deserve the dreaded name and are beginning to be labeled as non-progressive or indolent (“IDLEs”) –a categorization that by itself may prevent untold psychological and physical trauma.
Savvy researchers recognize that the most accurate information providing that distinction will come from what cells release into the blood like molecular mail. Cancer or IDLEs, regardless of threat level, release clues regarding structural rearrangements, as well as tell-tail enzymes that allow cell migration, commandeer local metabolism, and resist their pollution. Profiling these clues would enable scientists and doctors to determine the necessity and precision of therapy, rather than automatically prescribing aggressive treatment.
Such mail is not released “naked” but in little parcels of cell membrane called extracellular vesicles (EVs) or exosomes. Exosomes are produced by all cells in day to day bodily functions, but on a cell-for-cell basis, cancers release larger quantities of exosomes. [Read more…]