ME-HAD (COST Action BM1202)

The research topic of this COST Action is microvesicles and exosomes (ME). Cell-derived vesicles or extracellular vesicles is often used as a general term for small vesicles, expelled by most cells and ranging from 30-1000nm in diameter. Exosomes (a nano-sized sub-family of vesicles), first described in 1983, have gained substantial interest since recently shown to play a role in intercellular communication. These discoveries marked the beginning of many distinct research efforts in this field. As ME have implications in both health and disease, diagnostics and therapy, attention of basic scientists, clinicians and industry has been attracted.

Increasing interest in ME is evident and many European research groups, based in academia, clinics and industry have initiated research programs – funded though national initiatives– for the study of microvesicles and/or exosomes. Evidence for the increased interest include the fact that the 1st international conference on this topic (in 2005) at tracted 25 attendees, while the 2011 workshop in Paris had 250 attendees; with many hopefuls turned away due to space limitations. As a further indication of the growing interest in this area, by 2003 PubMed listed 20 publications on ME, with >200 publications in the past year alone; frequently led by Europe. More than 700 researchers signed up to the recently-established online non-funded International Society, led by Europe, and dedicated to extracellular vesicles. The Society an d this Action are highly complementary. Despite increasing ME research, there is no consensus or guidelines yet as to how these entitlesshould be defined, purified, analysed etc.

Ultimately, without a platform to bring together relevant stakeholders to reach a consensus, each group- while, undoubtedly, performing important locally-funded research- typically must define and then apply their own criteria in this regard. Furthermore, no organised co-ordination, exchange of ideas, tech niques, materials and people exists between these numerous European research groups and there is no forum for fundamental co-operation aimed at bringing together emerging data or for collectively identifying where gaps in our knowledge exist and how best we can work together to answer these questions. 

The Participants, who developed this Action, believe that it is imperative that the European research community works together on these issues in a manner that is inclusively of all interested stakeholders and so includes not only academics, clinicians and industry from COST countries, but also from non-COST countries. Overall, the main motivation for this COST Action entitled Microvesicles and Exosomes in Health and Disease (ME-HAD) is to link up experienced and early-stage researchers, to generalise previous work and address the challenges outlined above at a pan-European level. So having considered all possible options including the European Science Foundation (ESF), European Space Agency (ESA), EURE KA or Framework Programme 7 (FP7), the Participants believe that an interdisciplinary Action, ensuring that Europe continues to lead this field, is the most relevant framework to success.

Chair of the Action:
Prof Lorraine O'DRISCOLL (IE)
Vice Chair of the Action:
Prof Marca WAUBEN (NL)
Science officer of the Action:
Administrative officer of the Action:
Ms Jeannette NCHUNG

International Society for Extracellular Vesicles

Journal of Extracellular Vesicles



Extracellular Vesicles Reseach Group at Semmelweis University

Regional Research Network on Extracellular Vesicles

The Spanish Society for the study of EVs, GEIVEX

3rd GEIVEX symposium


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