Recent advances in the label-free characterization of exosomes for cancer liquid biopsy: From scattering and spectroscopy to nanoindentation and nanodevices

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Abstract

Exosomes (EXOs) are nano-sized vesicles secreted by most cell types. They are abundant in bio-fluids and harbor specific molecular constituents from their parental cells. Due to these characteristics, EXOs have a great potential in cancer diagnostics for liquid biopsy and personalized medicine. Despite this unique potential, EXOs are not yet widely applied in clinical settings, with two main factors hindering their translational process in diagnostics. Firstly, conventional extraction methods are time-consuming, require large sample volumes and expensive equipment, and often do not provide high-purity samples. Secondly, characterization methods have some limitations, because they are often qualitative, need extensive labeling or complex sampling procedures that can induce artifacts. In this context, novel label-free approaches are rapidly emerging, and are holding potential to revolutionize EXO diagnostics. These methods include the use of nanodevices for EXO purification, and vibrational spectroscopies, scattering, and nanoindentation for characterization. In this progress report, we summarize recent key advances in label-free techniques for EXO purification and characterization. We point out that these methods contribute to reducing costs and processing times, provide complementary information compared to the conventional characterization techniques, and enhance flexibility, thus favoring the discovery of novel and unexplored EXO-based biomarkers. In this process, the impact of nanotechnology is systematically highlighted, showing how the effectiveness of these techniques can be enhanced using nanomaterials, such as plasmonic nanoparticles and nanostructured surfaces, which enable the exploitation of advanced physical phenomena occurring at the nanoscale level.

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Di Santo, R., Romanò, S., Mazzini, A., Jovanović, S., Nocca, G., Campi, G., … Ciasca, G. (2021, June 1). Recent advances in the label-free characterization of exosomes for cancer liquid biopsy: From scattering and spectroscopy to nanoindentation and nanodevices. Nanomaterials. MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11061476

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