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JCI Insight. 2018 Apr 5;3(7). pii: 98942. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.98942. [Epub ahead of print]

Advances, challenges, and opportunities in extracellular RNA biology: insights from the NIH exRNA Strategic Workshop.

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Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA.
Cardiovascular Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Laboratory of Molecular Virology, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia, USA.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA.
Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics and Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.
Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA.
Departments of Pharmacology and Medicine (Hematology and Oncology), Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
NIH, Office of the Director, Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes Program, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Institute of Neurology (Edinger Institute), Frankfurt University Medical School, German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Germany.
Scintillon Institute, San Diego, California, USA.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Department of Pathology, Cancer Center Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit (VU) University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Magee-Womens Research Institute, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Princesa, Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares, Madrid, Spain.
National Center for Advancing Translational Science, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Department of Neurology, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Department of Chemistry, University of Kansas Cancer Center, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.
Cancer Immunology, Hematology, and Etiology Branch, Division of Cancer Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Extracellular RNA (exRNA) has emerged as an important transducer of intercellular communication. Advancing exRNA research promises to revolutionize biology and transform clinical practice. Recent efforts have led to cutting-edge research and expanded knowledge of this new paradigm in cell-to-cell crosstalk; however, gaps in our understanding of EV heterogeneity and exRNA diversity pose significant challenges for continued development of exRNA diagnostics and therapeutics. To unravel this complexity, the NIH convened expert teams to discuss the current state of the science, define the significant bottlenecks, and brainstorm potential solutions across the entire exRNA research field. The NIH Strategic Workshop on Extracellular RNA Transport helped identify mechanistic and clinical research opportunities for exRNA biology and provided recommendations on high priority areas of research that will advance the exRNA field.

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