Anchor, spacer, and ligand-modified engineered exosomes for trackable targeted therapy

Exosomes have been widely demonstrated as an effective anticancer therapeutic moiety. However, their clinical translation has been limited by the requirement of prohibitively high therapeutic doses due to their lack of specificity in delivery and, consequently, short systemic half-life. To overcome these challenges, researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center engineered a platform for modifying exosomes with an active targeting modality composed of membrane Anchor (BODIPY)-Spacer (PEG)-targeting Ligands (cyclic RGD peptide) (ASL). The researchers show that the intramembrane incorporation of a trackable, targeting system renders ASL exosomes (AExs) a modular platform. AExs significantly overcome challenges associated with exosome modification, including potential damage for functionalization, or destabilizing interactions between dyes and drugs. ASL-modification not only enhanced stability in imparting active targeting but also introduced a built-in bioimaging modality. These studies show that AExs target B16F10 melanoma tumor sites by the specific interaction of cyclic RGD and integrin. Doxorubicin encapsulated AExs (dAExs) significantly inhibited the growth of melanoma in vitro and in vivo. Thus, the researchers conclude that ASL-modification allows exosomes to be transformed into a novel therapeutic vehicle uniquely integrating in vivo tracking and robust targeting with drug delivery. They anticipate that the therapeutic, targeting, and diagnostic modularity provided by ASL will potentiate translational applications of exosome-based vehicles beyond anticancer therapy.


Kang C, Han P, Lee JS, Lee D, Kim D. (2020) Anchor, Spacer, and Ligand-Modified Engineered Exosomes for Trackable Targeted Therapy. Bioconjug Chem [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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