Blood contains 106-1012 extracellular vesicles (EV) per mL originating from platelets, erythrocytes, and leukocytes. EV range in size from less than 100 nm in diameter to > 1 μm, with most EV having a diameter of < 200 nm.

Isolation and establishing the cellular origin (identification) of single EV is extremely challenging because blood also contains platelets, which in size may overlap with larger EV (2-5 μm) and lipoprotein particles and protein aggregates which overlap in size and density with EV. Blood has a high density and viscosity and EV are heterogeneous in size and composition, which makes EV isolation even more difficult. The most commonly applied isolation protocols such as ultracentrifugation and density gradient centrifugation have serious draw-backs, resulting in massive and uncontrolled losses of EV subpopulations, poor recovery, contamination of for example protein aggregates, and loss of biological function. Thus, there is an urgent need for fast and reliable isolation / purification of EV from blood to gain access to EV as a novel source of biomarkers. In cancer, i.e. under pathological conditions, tumor-derived EV will enter the blood. Consequently, a fraction of EV in blood originates from cancer cells, and reliable identification of such EVs and the ability to examine their content can provide relevant information for the diagnosis, optimal therapy and monitoring of therapy.

In this program 22 industrial partners combine their proprietary technologies with 11 fundamental and applied research groups to find a solution for reliable detection and characterization of EVs. The projects are interconnected, and combined knowhow will improve their capabilities and establish the next generation platform for EV diagnostics.