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New Multiscale Characterization Methodology for Effective Determination of Isolation–Structure–Function Relationship of Extracellular Vesicles

  • Phan, Thanh Huyen1
  • Divakarla, Shiva Kamini1
  • Yeo, Jia Hao2
  • Lei, Qingyu1
  • Tharkar, Priyanka1
  • Pansani, Taisa Nogueira3
  • Leslie, Kathryn G.2
  • Tong, Maggie2
  • Coleman, Victoria A.4
  • Jämting, Åsa4
  • Du Plessis, Mar-Dean4
  • New, Elizabeth J.2, 5
  • Kalionis, Bill6
  • Demokritou, Philip7
  • Woo, Hyun-Kyung8, 9
  • Cho, Yoon-Kyoung8, 9
  • Chrzanowski, Wojciech1
  • 1 Sydney School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney Nano Institute, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW , (Australia)
  • 2 School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW , (Australia)
  • 3 Department of Dental Materials and Prosthodontics, Araraquara School of Dentistry, UNESP-Universidade Estadual Paulista, Araraquara , (Brazil)
  • 4 Nanometrology Section, National Measurement Institute Australia, Lindfield, NSW , (Australia)
  • 5 School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Sydney Nano Institute, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW , (Australia)
  • 6 Maternal-Fetal Medicine Pregnancy Research Centre, The Royal Women’s Hospital, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC , (Australia)
  • 7 Department of Environmental Health, Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA , (United States)
  • 8 Center for Soft and Living Matter, Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Ulsan
  • 9 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan
Published Article
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jun 07, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.669537
  • Bioengineering and Biotechnology
  • Original Research


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been lauded as next-generation medicines, but very few EV-based therapeutics have progressed to clinical use. Limited clinical translation is largely due to technical barriers that hamper our ability to mass produce EVs, i.e., to isolate, purify, and characterize them effectively. Technical limitations in comprehensive characterization of EVs lead to unpredicted biological effects of EVs. Here, using a range of optical and non-optical techniques, we showed that the differences in molecular composition of EVs isolated using two isolation methods correlated with the differences in their biological function. Our results demonstrated that the isolation method determines the composition of isolated EVs at single and sub-population levels. Besides the composition, we measured for the first time the dry mass and predicted sedimentation of EVs. These parameters were likely to contribute to the biological and functional effects of EVs on single cell and cell cultures. We anticipate that our new multiscale characterization approach, which goes beyond traditional experimental methodology, will support fundamental understanding of EVs as well as elucidate the functional effects of EVs in in vitro and in vivo studies. Our findings and methodology will be pivotal for developing optimal isolation methods and establishing EVs as mainstream therapeutics and diagnostics. This innovative approach is applicable to a wide range of sectors including biopharma and biotechnology as well as to regulatory agencies.

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