Exosomes as new therapeutic vectors for pancreatic cancer treatment

Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the deadliest cancers with a very short rate of survival and commonly without symptoms in its early stage. This absence of symptoms can lead to a late diagnosis associated with an advanced metastasis process, for which therapy is not effective. Although with extensive research in this field, the 5-year survival rate has not increased significantly. Notwithstanding, novel insights on risk factors, genetic mutations and molecular mechanisms pave the way for novel therapeutics that urge with a significant part of PC patients presenting resistance to chemotherapy treatments. Exosomes are presented as a promising strategy, working as delivery systems, since they can transport and release their cargoes after fusing with the membrane of pancreatic cells. Exosomes present advantages over liposomes, being less toxic and reaching higher levels in the bloodstream, working as molecule carriers that can inhibit oncogenes, activating tumor suppressor genes and inducing immune responses as well as controlling cell growth. Researchers from the University of Coimbra provide an overview about the scientific and clinical studies regarding the entire process, from isolation and purification of exosomes, to their design and transformation into anti-oncogenic drug delivering systems, particularly to target PC cells.

Oliveira C, Calmeiro J, Carrascal MA, Falcão A, Gomes C, Miguel Neves B, Teresa Cruz M. (2021) Exosomes as new therapeutic vectors for pancreatic cancer treatment. Eur J Pharm Biopharm 161:4-14. [abstract]

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