Extracellular vesicles in cancer therapy

Extracellular vesicles (EVs), including a variety of membrane-enclosed nanosized particles carrying cell-derived cargo, mediate a major type of intercellular communication in physiological and pathological processes. Both cancer and non-cancer cells secrete EVs, which can travel to and influence various types of cells at the primary tumor site as well as in distant organs. Tumor-derived EVs contribute to cancer cell plasticity and resistance to therapy, adaptation of tumor microenvironment, local and systemic vascular remodeling, immunomodulation, and establishment of pre-metastatic niches. Therefore, targeting the production, uptake, and function of tumor-derived EVs has emerged as a new strategy for stand-alone or combinational therapy of cancer. On the other hand, as EV cargo partially reflects the genetic makeup and phenotypic properties of the secreting cell, EV-based biomarkers that can be detected in biofluids are being developed for cancer diagnosis and for predicting and monitoring tumor response to therapy. Meanwhile, EVs from presumably safe sources are being developed as delivery vehicles for anticancer therapeutic agents and as anticancer vaccines. Numerous reviews have discussed the biogenesis and characteristics of EVs and their functions in cancer. Researchers from UCSD highlight recent advancements in translation of EV research outcome towards improved care of cancer, including developments of non-invasive EV-based biomarkers and therapeutic agents targeting tumor-derived EVs as well as engineering of therapeutic EVs.

Wang SE. (2022) Extracellular vesicles in cancer therapy. Semin Cancer Biol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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