Extracellular vesicles (EV) are tiny cell fragments that cells in our body use to communicate with each other and are present in bodily fluids such as blood and urine. The recent unfolding of EV as potential tools to help prevent, diagnose and even treat different diseases, such as cancer, resulted in a multitude of protocols, consider it as cookbook recipes, to isolate and analyze EV. Here, things go wrong. Experimental parameters vary between research groups and unless adequately reported, the recipes lack the knowledge to interpret and reproduce experiments.
An international consortium led by the research team of Dr. An Hendrix from Ghent University created a knowledgebank to coach researchers in the correct reporting of these recipes. The results are published in the leading journal Nature Methods.
The knowledgebank, named EV-TRACK, captures technical and biological features of EV and EV-related isolation and characterization recipes and informs researchers about (in)complete reporting of these recipes. As such EV-TRACK aims to accelerate breakthroughs in EV research by increasing its reproducibility at the benefit of scientists and the society.
Implementation of the EV-TRACK knowledgebase
A flowchart demonstrating four different data flows available to registered EV-TRACK users. (i) Study authors are able to upload prepublication data. Upon upload, an EV-TRACK ID is assigned, and preliminary EV-METRIC is calculated based on the specified parameters. Upon publication, the data submitted in EV-TRACK are curated by the EV-TRACK administrators, the final EV-METRIC is calculated, and the experiment(s) is(are) included and searchable in the public knowledgebase. (ii) Data of published experiments that are submitted to EV-TRACK can immediately be curated and included in the main database. (iii) Unpublished data of an experiment can be added to increase reporting transparency. (iv) EV-TRACK users can provide recommendations which will be considered together with data from the knowledgebase to update EV-TRACK and EV-METRIC.
Availability – http://www.evtrack.org