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Open Access INTERCOM – Communication between immune cells via release of RNA-carrying vesicles: Lessons from viruses – FP7 ME-had – European Network on Microvesicles and Exosomes in Health and Disease – COST

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Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-surrounded structures that are released by cells. The vast majority of EVs is in the nano size range. In recent times, interest in EVs has increased dramatically after they were discovered to contain messengerRNA and microRNA. This has led to an intense journey of investigation of their biological function and their diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Research in the past years has shown that EVs reflect the health or disease status of the cells from which they derive. The type and quantity of EVs in body fluids such as blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid may therefore serve as reliable and accessible biomarkers of disease. Moreover, numerous studies indicate that injection of EVs from (diseased) cells into model organisms can evoke strong reactions and can induce, reduce, or increase pathological processes, depending on the type and status of cells that release these EVs. Thus, there is strong evidence that EV can influence cellular behaviour and modulate many different (patho)physiological processes. Since EV-mediated communication occurs not only inside an organism, but also between organisms, the benefits of EV-research are very broad, ranging from unravelling mechanisms of disease and the role of dietary-EVs to new insights into the establishment and maintenance of ecosystems INTERCOM is a European Research Council (ERC)-funded project hosted by Utrecht University, Netherlands. The Principal Investigator is Dr Esther NM Nolte-'t Hoen. The overarching goal of INTERCOM is to resolve how the exchange of small RNAs via EVs contributes to intercellular communication between immune cells.

ME-HaD is a Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action headed up by Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The Consortium's founding Chair is Professor Lorraine O'Driscoll, a specialist in the role of EVs in cancer, while Professor Marca Wauben, a specialist on immune modulation and inter-organism communication via EVs and technology development is Vice-Chair. ME-HaD involves a large number of European research groups that are working on EVs and fosters a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach to enhancing both basic understanding and translational potential of EVs. To do this, ME-HaD brings together academic, clinical and industry expertise from COST and non-COST countries. It has also developed a forum for the free exchange of concepts in EV research. ME-HaD works closely together with the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV), which provides essential training and research opportunities for those involved in EV research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2017

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