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NIH Awards $940K to Johns Hopkins-Led Team for Extracellular Vesicle Research

NEW YORK – The National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute has awarded an international group led by Johns Hopkins University researchers a $940,000 grant to study extracellular vesicles (EVs) that can be used to diagnose disease, track disease status, and potentially deliver therapies.

As part of the two-year grant, the team will establish a group called the Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium Stage 2 (ERRC2). The group will bring together scientists from several institutions to develop new EV technology to detect and treat disease.

JHU biologist and project leader Kenneth Witwer explained that EVs are promising because researchers can trace them back to specific cells, allowing them to potentially diagnose and monitor disease. The team believes that they could engineer EVs to carry therapies for cancer and other diseases directed to a specific location in the body.

In addition to JHU, participating organizations include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the University of California, Davis, the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo, NanoView Diagnostics, and SciBerg.

In contrast to traditional grant programs, ERCC2 participants will need to meet together in person twice a year to share their findings. If Witwer’s team is successful with ERRC2, it will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $2 million in funding.