Exosomes are secreted membrane vesicles that have been proposed as an effective means to detect a variety of disease states, including cancer. The properties of exosomes, including stability in biological fluids, allow for their efficient isolation and make them an ideal vehicle for studies on early disease detection and evaluation. Much data has been collected over recent years regarding the messenger RNA, microRNA, and protein contents of exosomes. In addition, many studies have described the functional role that exosomes play in disease initiation and progression. Tumor cells have been shown to secrete exosomes, often in increased amounts compared to normal cells, and these exosomes can carry the genomic and proteomic signatures characteristic of the tumor cells from which they were derived. While these unique signatures make exosomes ideal for cancer detection, exosomes derived from cancer cells have also been shown to play a functional role in cancer progression. Here, we review the unique genomic and proteomic contents of exosomes originating from cancer cells as well as their functional effects to promote tumor progression
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