Exosomes denote a class of secreted nanoparticles defined by size, surface protein and lipid composition, and the ability to carry RNA and proteins. They are important mediators of intercellular communication and regulators of the cellular niche, and their altered characteristics in many diseases, such as cancer, suggest them to be important both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, prompting the idea of using exosomes as drug delivery vehicles, especially for gene therapy. This review covers the current status of evidence presented in the field of exosome-based drug delivery systems. Components for successful exosome-based drug delivery, such as choice of donor cell, therapeutic cargo, use of targeting peptide, loading method and administration route are highlighted and discussed with a general focus pertaining to the results obtained in models of different cancer types. In addition, completed and on-going clinical trials are described, evaluating exosome-based therapies for the treatment of different cancer types. Due to their endogenous origin, exosome-based drug delivery systems may have advantages in the treatment of cancer, but their design needs further refinement to justify their usage on the clinical scale.
A comprehensive overview of exosomes as drug delivery vehicles
Johnsen KB, Gudbergsson JM, Skov MN, Pilgaard L, Moos T, Duroux M. (2014) A comprehensive overview of exosomes as drug delivery vehicles – Endogenous nanocarriers for targeted cancer therapy. Biochim Biophys Acta [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]