An exosome-based gene delivery platform for cell-specific CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing

exosomes

Exosomes are naturally occurring vesicles that have the potential to be manipulated to become promising drug delivery vehicles for on-demand in vitro and in vivo gene editing. Researchers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center have developed the modular safeEXO platform, a prototype exosome delivery vehicle that is mostly devoid of endogenous RNA and can efficaciously deliver RNA and ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes to their intended intracellular targets manifested by downstream biologic activity. The researchers also successfully engineered producer cells to produce safeEXO vehicles that contain endogenous Cas9 (safeEXO-CAS) to effectively deliver efficient ribonucleoprotein (RNP)-mediated CRISPR genome editing machinery to organs or diseased cells in vitro and in vivo. They confirmed that safeEXO-CAS exosomes could co-deliver ssDNA, sgRNA and siRNA, and efficaciously mediate gene insertion in a dose-dependent manner. They demonstrated the potential to target safeEXO-CAS exosomes by engineering exosomes to express a tissue-specific moiety, integrin alpha-6 (safeEXO-CAS-ITGA6), which increased their uptake to lung epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo. The researchers tested the ability of safeEXO-CAS-ITGA6 loaded with EMX1 sgRNAs to induce lung-targeted editing in mice, which demonstrated significant gene editing in the lungs with no signs of morbidity or detectable changes in immune cell populations. These results demonstrate that this modular safeEXO platform represents a targetable, safe and efficacious vehicle to deliver nucleic acid-based therapeutics that successfully reach their intracellular targets. Furthermore, safeEXO producer cells can be genetically manipulated to produce safeEXO vehicles containing CRISPR machinery for more efficient RNP-mediated genome editing. This platform has the potential to improve current therapies and increase the landscape of treatment for various human diseases using RNAi and CRISPR approaches.

Dubey S, Chen S, Talis A, Molotkov A, Ali A, Mintz A, Momen-Heravi F. (2023) An exosome-based gene delivery platform for cell-specific CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. bioRXiv [online preprint]. [abstract]

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