Exosome-Based Vaccines: History, Current State, and Clinical Trials

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released by most cell types as part of an intracellular communication system in crucial processes such as inflammation, cell proliferation, and immune response. However, EVs have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases, such as cancer and numerous infectious diseases. An important feature of EVs is their ability to deliver a wide range of molecules to nearby targets or over long distances, which allows the mediation of different biological functions. This delivery mechanism can be utilized for the development of therapeutic strategies, such as vaccination. Researchers from the University of São Paulo have highlighted several studies from a historical perspective, with respect to current investigations on EV-based vaccines. For example, vaccines based on exosomes derived from dendritic cells proved to be simpler in terms of management and cost-effectiveness than dendritic cell vaccines. Recent evidence suggests that EVs derived from cancer cells can be leveraged for therapeutics to induce strong anti-tumor immune responses. Moreover, EV-based vaccines have shown exciting and promising results against different types of infectious diseases. The authors have also summarized the results obtained from completed clinical trials conducted on the usage of exosome-based vaccines in the treatment of cancer, and more recently, coronavirus disease.

Timeline illustrating main discoveries related to exosome-based vaccines

CTL, cytotoxic lymphocyte; DEXs, exosomes derived from dendritic cells (DCs); NSCLC, non-small cell lung cancer; MSCs, mesenchymal stem cells; TDEs, tumor-derived exosomes; OMV, outer membrane vesicle; COVID-19, coronavirus disease-19.

Santos P, Almeida F. (2021) Exosome-Based Vaccines: History, Current State, and Clinical Trials. Front Immunol 12:711565. [article]

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