Exosomes are nanoscale (≈30-150 nm) extracellular vesicles of endocytic origin that are shed by most types of cells and circulate in bodily fluids. Exosomes carry a specific composition of proteins, lipids, RNA, and DNA and can work as cargo to transfer this information to recipient cells. Recent studies on exosomes have shown that they play an important role in various biological processes, such as intercellular signaling, coagulation, inflammation, and cellular homeostasis. These functional roles are attributed to their ability to transfer RNA, proteins, enzymes, and lipids, thereby affecting the physiological and pathological conditions in various diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative, infectious, and autoimmune diseases (e.g., cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis). Due to these unique characteristics, exosomes are considered promising biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of various diseases via noninvasive or minimally invasive procedures. Over the last decade, a plethora of methodologies have been developed for analyzing disease-specific exosomes using optical and nonoptical tools. Here, researchers from Griffith University discuss the major biological functions, significance, and potential role of exosomes as biomarkers and therapeutics. Furthermore, an overview of the most commonly used techniques for exosome analysis, highlighting the major technical challenges and limitations of existing techniques, is presented.
Schematic representation of an immunomagnetic device for exosomal RNA analysis (iMER)