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The identification of extracellular phospholipid vesicles as conveyors of cellular information has created excitement in the field of drug delivery. Biological therapeutics, including short interfering RNA and recombinant proteins, are prone to degradation, have limited ability to cross biological membranes, and may elicit immune responses. Therefore, delivery systems for such drugs are under intensive investigation. Exploiting extracellular vesicles as carriers for biological therapeutics is a promising strategy to overcome these issues and to achieve efficient delivery to the cytosol of target cells. Exosomes are a well studied class of extracellular vesicles known to carry proteins and nucleic acids, making them especially suitable for such strategies. However, the considerable complexity and the related high chance of off-target effects of these carriers are major barriers for translation to the clinic. Given that it is well possible that not all components of exosomes are required for their proper functioning, an alternative strategy would be to mimic these vesicles synthetically. By assembly of liposomes harboring only crucial components of natural exosomes, functional exosome mimetics may be created. The low complexity and use of well characterized components strongly increase the pharmaceutical acceptability of such systems. However, exosomal components that would be required for the assembly of functional exosome mimetics remain to be identified. This review provides insights into the composition and functional properties of exosomes, and focuses on components which could be used to enhance the drug delivery properties of exosome mimetics.

Original publication

DOI

10.2147/IJN.S29661

Type

Journal article

Journal

Int J Nanomedicine

Publication Date

2012

Volume

7

Pages

1525 - 1541

Keywords

drug delivery systems, exosomes, extracellular vesicles, liposomes, Animals, Biomimetic Materials, Biotechnology, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Drug Carriers, Drug Delivery Systems, Exosomes, Humans, Liposomes, Membrane Lipids, Membrane Proteins, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, RNA, Small Interfering, Tetraspanins