*NEW PROJECT*: Characterising the role of exosomes in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
Grant holder: Dr Elaine Dunlop
Project status: New project
Institution/University: Cardiff University
Patients with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) develop cysts and tumours in several organs of their body. The cysts do not exist in isolation, but are surrounded by, and interact with, normal cells within the body. To date, research and clinical therapies have focussed on targeting the disease-causing TSC cells, but the adjacent normal cells could also be contributing to disease progression. For example, by encouraging neighbouring blood vessels to grow, tumours can grow larger.
This project will investigate how TSC cells communicate with these normal cells. We will investigate a particular type of cell-to-cell communication, involving exosomes. Exosomes are small packages of information released by cells into the surrounding environment, where they can influence how other cells function. The project will compare exosomes from normal and TSC cells to determine how the loss of TSC gene function might affect exosomes and their impact on surrounding normal cells.
Through a better understanding of TSC cell communication, this project aims to shed light on TSC disease progression. By studying the effect of the TSC exosomes on adjacent normal cells, we hope to identify signalling pathways that could be targeted to halt tumour development, thereby revealing potential new strategies for treating TSC.