Identifying friends and foes among vesicles

Thanks to a method developed at Institut Curie, French and US researchers are going to investigate vesicles to determine which ones may be allies in the fight against cancer, and which ones we need to combat.
Clotilde Théry

Our cells secrete vesicles, small "bags" containing molecules that constitute information carried to the other cells. These vesicles play a variety of roles. When they are secreted by tumors, some of them will trigger an anti-tumor response from the body, while others will block this response. Intense research is being carried out on these vesicles. Their detection in patients' blood may for example allow us to identify the disease and track its development. Moreover, these vesicles are also being considered as targets for new therapies.

But research today is finding that these vesicles are very similar, so how do we determine which are the right ones to target?

To find this out, researchers from Institut Curie have developed tools to isolate, identify and compare different vesicle sub-types. They can now use these tools to understand the functions of each sub-type and differentiate those that stimulate the immune defenses from those that inhibit them. The project combines studies on mouse cells, in vitro and in vivo, and experiments on human cells in vitro and on samples from patients. Thanks to the dual funding from this PIC3i (2 x 150,000 euros), the work will be divided between Institut Curie and the National Cancer Institute in the USA, and each will bring their specific expertise, with experimental models and additional patient cohorts.