Mesenchymal Stem Cell Derived Exosomes – a Nano Platform for Therapeutics and Drug Delivery in Combating COVID-19

The recent pandemic situation transpired due to coronavirus novel strain SARS-CoV-2 has become a global concern. This human coronavirus (HCov-19) has put the world on high alert as the numbers of confirmed cases are continuously increasing. The world is now fighting against this deadly virus and is leaving no stone unturned to find effective treatments through testing of various available drugs, including those effective against flu, malaria, etc. With an urgent need for the development of potential strategies, two recent studies from China using Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) to treat COVID-19 pneumonia have shed some light on a potential cure for the COVID-19 infected patients. However, MSCs, despite being used in various other clinical trials have always been questioned for their tendency to aggregate or form clumps in the injured or disease microenvironment. It has also been reported in various studies that exosomes secreted by these MSCs, contribute towards the cell’s biological and therapeutic efficacy. There have been reports evaluating the safety and feasibility of these exosomes in various lung diseases, thereby proposing them as a cell-free therapeutic agent. Also, attractive features like cell targeting, low-immunogenicity, safety, and high biocompatibility distinguish these exosomes from other synthetic nano-vesicles and thus potentiate their role as a drug delivery nano-platform. Building upon these observations, herein, efforts are made to give an overview of stem cell-derived exosomes as an appealing therapeutic agent and drug delivery nano-carrier. Researchers from AIIMS briefly recapitulate the recent evidence and developments in understanding exosomes as a promising candidate for novel nano-intervention in the current pandemic scenario. Furthermore, they highlight and discuss mechanistic role of exosomes to combat severe lung pathological conditions. The researchers also dwell into the nano-formulation of exosomes for its better applicability, storage, and stability thereby conferring them as off the shelf therapeutic.

Schematic representation showing the potential role of
MSCs derived Exosomes in combating COVID-19 Infection


Panel (a) Synergistic effect of the drug and exosomes may be utilized as an effective approach against the virus. Various hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs with anti-viral properties can be packaged into exosomes for its delivery to the target site. Panel (b) The therapeutic cargo present in Exosomes aids in the reduction of inflammation, cellular repair, alveolar fluid clearance, and other damage caused to the lung during viral infection

Pinky, Gupta S, Krishnakumar V, Sharma Y, Dinda AK, Mohanty S. (202) Mesenchymal Stem Cell Derived Exosomes: a Nano Platform for Therapeutics and Drug Delivery in Combating COVID-19. Stem Cell Rev Rep [published online ahead of print]. [article]

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