Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules are found not only inside, but also outside human cells in tissues and biological fluids such as blood plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. Although normally very labile, these molecules are protected from degradation by molecular shuttles including protein complexes, lipoprotein particles, and extracellular vesicles (EVs). Rapidly expanding research programs indicate that EVs and their nucleic acid cargo can provide early warning of disease. They can also be harnessed to develop therapeutics. The Witwer laboratory investigates EVs and RNA in the context of HIV infection, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, and cancers. We also work on optimizing particle separation methods and single-particle analysis.
Novel Separation Methods for exRNA Carriers: Extracellular Vesicles, Lipoprotein Particles, and Protein Aggregates (NCI/Common Fund)
Extracellular Vesicle and Extracellular RNA Biomarkers of HIV-1 Central Nervous System Pathogenesis and Cigarette Use (NIDA)
Next-generation extracellular vesicle biologics to target central nervous system and peripheral reservoirs of HIV (NIAID)
Extracellular Vesicle-Mediated Immunomodulation in HIV Infection and Nicotine Abuse (NIDA)
Microglial extracellular vesicles as novel markers of neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease (Michael J. Fox Foundation)
Novel Approaches to Capture, Sorting, and Characterization of CNS-Origin Extracellular Vesicles (NIMH)