Engineering Exosomes for Cancer Therapy

There remains an urgent need for novel therapeutic strategies to treat metastatic cancer, which results in over 8 million deaths annually worldwide. Following secretion, exosomes are naturally taken up by cells, and capable of the stable transfer of drugs, therapeutic microRNAs and proteins. As knowledge of the biogenesis, release and uptake of exosomes continues to evolve, and thus also has interest in these extracellular vesicles as potential tumor-targeted vehicles for cancer therapy. The ability to engineer exosome content and migratory itinerary holds tremendous promise. Studies to date have employed viral and non-viral methods to engineer the parent cells to secrete modified exosomes, or alternatively, to directly manipulate exosome content following secretion. The majority of studies have demonstrated promising results, with decreased tumor cell invasion, migration and proliferation, along with enhanced immune response, cell death, and sensitivity to chemotherapy observed. Researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway highlight the exciting potential for exosomes as therapeutic vehicles for cancer treatment. Successful implementation in the clinical setting will be dependent upon establishment of rigorous standards for exosome manipulation, isolation, and characterisation.


Gilligan KE, Dwyer RM. (2017) Engineering Exosomes for Cancer Therapy. Int J Mol Sci 18(6). [article]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *