Within the past decade, extracellular vesicles have emerged as important mediators of intercellular communication, being involved in the transmission of biological signals between cells in both prokaryotes and higher eukaryotes to regulate a diverse range of biological processes. In addition, pathophysiological roles for extracellular vesicles are beginning to be recognized in diseases including cancer, infectious diseases and neurodegenerative disorders, highlighting potential novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Moreover, both unmodified and engineered extracellular vesicles are likely to have applications in macromolecular drug delivery. Here, we review recent progress in understanding extracellular vesicle biology and the role of extracellular vesicles in disease, discuss emerging therapeutic opportunities and consider the associated challenges.
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S.E.A. is supported by a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Swedish Society of Medical Research (SSMF) and the Swedish Medical Research Council (VR-med unga forskare). I.M. is supported by a Postdoctoral MOBILITAS Fellowship of the Estonian Science Foundation.
Matthew J. A. Wood and Samir EL Andaloussi have filed patent applications in relation to extracellular vesicles. Patents filed are as follows: WO2010/119256, priority date April 2009; UK1121070.5 and UK1121069.7, filed December 2011.
Xandra O. Breakefield is on the Scientific Advisory Board for Exosome Diagnostics.
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EL Andaloussi, S., Mäger, I., Breakefield, X. et al. Extracellular vesicles: biology and emerging therapeutic opportunities. Nat Rev Drug Discov 12, 347–357 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrd3978
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