To increase cancer patient survival and wellbeing, diagnostic assays need to be able to detect cases earlier, be applied more frequently, and preferably before symptoms develop. The expansion of blood biopsy technologies such as detection of circulating tumour cells and cell-free DNA has shown clinical promise for this. Extracellular vesicles released into the blood from tumour cells may offer a snapshot of the whole of the tumour. They represent a stable and multifaceted complex of a number of different types of molecules including DNA, RNA and protein. These represent biomarker targets that can be collected and analysed from blood samples, offering great potential for early diagnosis. In this review we discuss the benefits and challenges of the use of extracellular vesicles in this context and provide recommendations on where this developing field should focus their efforts to bring future success.
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RP, PS and DC are supported by UKRI. All supported by Oxford Brookes University.
RP, EB, SB and DC have shares in MetaGuideX Ltd. PS declares no conflict of interest. DC has share options in Evox Therapeutics, working on exosome therapeutics.
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Pink, R.C., Beaman, EM., Samuel, P. et al. Utilising extracellular vesicles for early cancer diagnostics: benefits, challenges and recommendations for the future. Br J Cancer 126, 323–330 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01668-4