Intercellular communication is a key feature of cancer progression and metastasis. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are generated by all cells, including cancer cells, and recent studies have identified EVs as key mediators of cell-cell communication via packaging and transfer of bioactive constituents to impact the biology and function of cancer cells and cells of the tumor microenvironment. Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center discuss recent advances in understanding the functional contribution of EVs to cancer progression and metastasis, as cancer biomarkers, and the development of cancer therapeutics.
EVs as anti-cancer therapeutic agents
Distinct cellular sources have been used to generate EVs in large scale for clinical trials. EV engineering includes the incorporation of a cargo (e.g., ASO, siRNA, chemotherapeutics, etc.), enriching for exosomes with unique surface protein presentation (e.g., antigen, immune modifying receptor). Preclinical studies in various tumor models and tumor types informed ongoing clinical trial design. EVs offer a novel therapeutic platform for cancer treatment, from personalized medicine to immunotherapy and targeted therapy with novel safety and efficacy profiles.