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deborah goberdhan: exosome switching, a new mechanism in cancer biology


So my name is Deborah Goberdhan, I work in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, and I have received a John Fell project award that’s helped to support my group.

What is your area of research?

So we have two major areas of interest. The first is how cells respond to their environment, and nutrient levels in particular. Our second major area of interest is the release of small vesicles known as exosomes. 

What is exosome switching?

Exosomes are commonly thought to be produced within structures in cells called late-endosomes. What we have found is that exosomes can also be produced from an alternative compartment known as the recycling endosome. Exosome switching is the release of exosomes not from the classical compartment but from the alternative compartment. These alternative exosomes, released from the recycling endosomes, can then have effects on recipient cells that are likely, we believe, to promote tumour adaptation.

What did the John Fell Fund allow you to do?

The John Fell Fund enabled us to buy two major pieces of equipment that have really helped to accelerate our research. With these pieces of equipment, we’ve been really able to generate consistent and high-quality data that has helped us to really define the exosome switch. We are now in a position that we can prepare this data for publication, and we believe this manuscript is likely to have a significant impact on the exosome field.

What are your aspirations for the future of your research?

The work which we have been able to do with the John Fell Fund is enabling us now to have enough sufficient data to actually expand the repertoire of work that we do into looking at basic fundamental science questions, and so we will be able to apply to government funded agencies such as the BBSRC, and we will also be able to extend our findings in more clinical directions through fundings through the Medical Research Council, and also applying for funding through small charities such as Prostate Cancer UK and Breast Cancer now.