Extracellular vesicle research connects plant, animal, and medical sciences

We explore the role of cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) in intercellular communication within biological systems. Since communication via EVs is an evolutionary conserved mechanism this research connects plant, animal and medical sciences. We consider EVs as crucial players of a ‘new biology’ based on the perspective that each organism is part of a ‘superorganism’ sustained and regulated by a network of ecological interactions. In that respect extracellular vesicle research may generate novel insights needed to address major societal challenges concerning nutrition and health, chronic infections and inflammatory diseases.

Tranferring information within and across organisms
We study communication via extracellular vesicles within and between organisms in relation to the development and homeostasis of the immune system. We investigate the role of extracellular vesicles in the interplay between the innate and adaptive immune system during physiological and immune-pathological conditions such as chronic inflammatory diseases and allergies. Furthermore, we focus on how extracellular vesicles transfer information from one organism to the other, for instance by studying the signalling and immune modulatory function of extracellular vesicles in (breast)milk. By analysing the molecular composition and function of extracellular vesicles released by immune cells (adaptive and innate) and present in (breast)milk, we aim to unveil the (patho)physiological role of these extracellular vesicles in immune (dys)regulation.