The discovery of the role of extracellular vesicles (EV) as specific communicators between the cells and the extracellular matrix has changed our understanding of human physiology. These tiny plasma membrane-derived particles are like fingerprints from the original cells. They carry a similar set of molecules as the original cells, and changes in physiological or pathological situations are reflected in their number and molecular composition. They are secreted into the extracellular matrix and all body fluids, where they act as easily available biomarkers for early diagnosis and follow-up of disease progression. Additionally, they are promising natural vehicles for drug targeting.
We aim to utilize the unique properties of hyaluronic acid (HA) to enhance the safety and specific targeting of HA-based nanocarriers. We use modern high resolution, 3-dimensional and live-cell bioimaging techniques and their combinations, and develop novel methods for EV engineering and analysis. We are interested in the impact of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules and adhesion receptors, such as HA and CD44 on the EV biogenesis, traffic, and interactions with their target cells. Our aim is to increase the understanding of the basic biology of EV which helps to develop novel methods for drug delivery, treatments, and diagnostics.
Scientific and Societal Impact of Research
EVs are natural next-generation tools for targeted therapy and early diagnostics of cancer and other widespread diseases, such as various types of inflammation and metabolic diseases. Their presence in all body fluids like plasma and urine enables their non-invasive detection from liquid biopsies instead of the limited sample obtained with fixed biopsies. Furthermore, stem cell-derived EVs act as promising tools for cell-free therapy of damaged, slowly regenerating tissues, such as cartilage. In addition to their diagnostic and therapeutic value, EVs act as important regulators of human physiology both in health and disease.
Group members - UEF
Kirsi Rilla Senior Researcher , School of Medicine, Biomedicine
Johanna Matilainen Early Stage Researcher , School of Medicine, Biomedicine
Sanna Oikari University Teacher , School of Medicine, Biomedicine
Taija Hukkanen Bioanalyst , School of Medicine, Biomedicine
Heikki Kyykallio Early Stage Researcher , School of Medicine, Biomedicine
Stef Bosch Early Stage Researcher , School of Medicine, Biomedicine