Extracellular Vesicles: A Brief Overview and Its Role in Precision Medicine

  • Mingyi Shang
  • John S. Ji
  • Chao Song
  • Bao Jun Gao
  • Jason Gang Jin
  • Winston Patrick KuoEmail author
  • Hongjun Kang
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1660)


Precision medicine has emerged as an approach to tailor therapies for an individual at the time of diagnosis and/or treatment. This emergence has been fueled by the ability to profile nucleic acids, along with proteins and lipids isolated from biofluids, a method called “liquid biopsy,” either by or in combination of one of the following components: circulating tumor cells (CTCs), cell-free DNA (cfDNA), and/or extracellular vesicles (EVs). EVs are membrane-surrounded structures released by cells in an evolutionarily conserved manner. EVs have gained much attention from both the basic and clinical research areas, as EVs appear to play a role in many diseases; however, the well-known case is cancer. The hallmark of EVs in cancer is their role as mediators of communication between cells both at physiological and pathophysiological levels; hence, EVs are thought to contribute to the creation of a microenvironmental niche that promotes cancer cell survival, as well as reprogramming distant tissue for invasion. It is important to understand the mechanistic and functional aspects at the basic science level of EVs to get a better grasp on their role in healthy and disease states. EVs range from 30–1000 nm membrane-enclosed vesicles that are released by many mammalian cell types and present in a variety of biofluids. EVs have emerged as an area of clinical interest in the era of Precision Medicine, from their role in liquid biopsy (tissue biopsy free) approach for screening, assessing tumor heterogeneity, monitoring therapeutic responses, and minimal residual disease detection to EV-based therapeutics. EVs’ diagnostic and therapeutic exploitation is under intense investigation in various indications. This chapter highlights EV biogenesis, composition of EVs, and their potential role in liquid biopsy diagnostics and therapeutics in the area of cancer.

Key words

Exosomes Biogenesis Extracellular vesicles Precision medicine Liquid biopsy Diagnostics Therapeutics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mingyi Shang
    • 1
  • John S. Ji
    • 2
  • Chao Song
    • 3
  • Bao Jun Gao
    • 3
  • Jason Gang Jin
    • 3
  • Winston Patrick Kuo
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Hongjun Kang
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyShanghai Tongren HospitalShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Environmental Health ScienceDuke Kunshan UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.CloudHealth Genomics, LtdShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Weschester Biotech ProjectAsbury ParkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Critical Care MedicineChinese PLA General HospitalBeijingChina

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