AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


Device Captures Vesicles Shed by Brain Tumors, Offering Patient-Specific Diagnosis and Treatment

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Vesicle DNA, RNA and protein analysis can ID tumor vulnerabilities, guide treatment decisions and monitor response


Precision cancer treatment relies on obtaining molecular information about the tumor to guide effective treatment decisions. Because needle biopsies of brain tumors are invasive and difficult, bioengineers supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have developed micro-technologies that capture extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by the tumor. The vesicles carry samples of the mutated genetic material and proteins causing malignancy that researchers hope to analyze to optimize treatment.

Although they carry a wealth of information, EVs from tumors are very small particles, made of lipids, and are relatively rare. Therefore, researchers have developed microfluidic devices that can take a small sample of blood from a patient and capture the EVs and their contents for analysis. 

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