Professor of Molecular Biomedicine, Institute of Technology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tartu, Estonia
Reet Kurg graduated in 1988 as bio-organic chemist and obtained her PhD in 2000 in molecular biology at the University of Tartu, Estonia. She initially worked on the molecular biology of papillomavirus replication before moving on to cancer testis antigens. Her current research is dedicated for understanding of the biological functions and underlying regulatory mechanism of MAGEA proteins expression in cancer cells. She is also active in the field of extracellular vesicles with the aim of finding biomarkers for cancer diagnostics and generating EVs with desired properties. From 2018 she is a Director of the Institute of Technology, University of Tartu and from 2021 Professor of Molecular Biomedicine in the same institute.
Blood-derived EVs as a source of biomarkers for early diagnostics
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have potential as new tumor markers that could be used as diagnostic and prognostic markers for early detection of melanoma. EVs were purified from the blood serum of melanoma patients using two methods—ultracentrifugation (UC) and PEG precipitation—and analyzed by mass spectrometry and immunoblot. We identified 585 unique proteins; 334 proteins were detected in PEG-precipitated samples and 515 in UC-purified EVs. EVs purified from patients varied in their size and concentration in different individuals. EVs obtained from stage II and III patients were, on average, smaller and more abundant than others. Detailed analysis of three potential biomarkers—SERPINA3, LGALS3BP, and gelsolin—revealed that the expression of SERPINA3 and LGALS3BP was higher in melanoma patients than healthy controls, while gelsolin exhibited higher expression in healthy controls. Our data suggest that all three proteins might have potential to be used as biomarkers, but a number of issues, such as purification of EVs, standardization, and validation of methods suitable for everyday clinical settings, still need to be addressed.