Exosomes are microvesicles of nanometric size involved in the communication between cells and tissues. Inside their bilipidic membrane they carry nucleic acids such as cargos (DNA, miRNA, etc.). Some of the advantages that make exosomes very attractive therapeutic vehicles are (i) their tropism through different tissues, (ii) the ability to pass biological barriers and (iii) the protection of the encapsulated material from the immune system and degradation. Viruses are some of the most widely employed gene therapy vehicles; however, they are still facing many problems, such as inefficient tropism to damaged areas and their elimination by the immune system. One of the functions attributed to exosomes is the elimination of substances that could be harmful to the cell, including viruses. Recently it has been investigated whether complete viruses or part of them could be encapsulated in exosomes, for a new viral-exosome gene therapy approach. Moreover, nanotechnology is another type of advanced therapy (together with gene and cell therapies) that can be used, among other utilities, to transfer genetic material. Recently the field of encapsulation of nanomaterials in exosomes, with or without gene transfer, is increasing. Researchers from University of Zaragoza discuss all of these studies.
Strategies employed for exosome loading
(A) Exogenous methods (including passive and active methods) and (B) indirect approaches by labeling parental cells and taking advantage of the exosome biogenesis pathway.