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Cells communicate by sending little fat balls to one another. Wouter Roos, professor of Molecular Biophysics at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, together with colleagues from Amsterdam and Utrecht, is the first to describe the mechanical properties of such fat balls, called exosomes. By studying exosomes of patients with a blood disorder, the researchers obtained unexpected results.
"Exosomes from their blood cells have very different properties than those from healthy individuals," Roos concludes. "That offers new possibilities in diagnosis and nanomedicine." The results were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on 23 November.
Balls - Proteins - Cells - Time - Cells
That little balls made of fat and proteins move in and out of cells has been known for a long time. Cells compose those balls using a small part of the cell membrane, the outer wall of the cell. For a long time, it was thought that these exosomes mainly cleaned up waste from the cell. But for about 15 years, researchers have known that these exosomes are important for the communication between cells.
"So far, we have only studied them in groups to discover their properties. But thanks to a special microscope, we could now study and describe one single exosome," says Roos.
Roos - Research - Years - Amsterdam - Professor
Roos started the research a few years ago in Amsterdam together with professor in physics of life processes Gijs Wuite and finished it after his arrival in Groningen. "We first looked at the red blood cell exosomes with a touch microscope," says Roos. "This AFM feels over the surface with a needle to discern what the surface looks like."
This is a bit like how a blind person feels braille letters. "We then tested the mechanical properties by pressing these small fat balls. This provides an idea of the firmness and flexibility of the exosome." By doing so, the researchers were the first to map the properties...
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