Extracellular vesicles – the next generation in gene therapy delivery

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are esteemed as a promising delivery vehicle for various genetic therapeutics. They are relatively inert, non-immunogenic, biodegradable, and biocompatible. At least in rodents, they can even transit challenging bodily hurdles such as the blood-brain barrier. Constitutively shed by all cells and with the potential to interact specifically with neighbouring and distant targets, EVs can be engineered to carry and deliver therapeutic molecules such as proteins and RNAs. EVs are thus emerging as an elegant in vivo gene therapy vector. Deeper understanding of basic EV biology—including cellular production, EV loading, systemic distribution, and cell delivery—is still needed for effective harnessing of these endogenous cellular nanoparticles as next-generation nano-delivery tools. However, even a perfect EV product will be challenging to produce at clinical scale. In this regard, researchers from Griffith University propose that vector transduction technologies can be used to convert cells either ex vivo or directly in vivo into EV factories for stable, safe modulation of gene expression and function. Here, the researchers extrapolate from the current EV state-of-the-art to a bright potential future, using EVs to treat genetic diseases that are refractory to current therapeutics.

Cecchin R, Troyer Z, Witwer K, Morris KV. (2023) Extracellular vesicles: the next generation in gene therapy delivery. Mol Ther [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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