Pharma Focus Asia

Exosomes As Therapeutic Drug Carriers And Delivery Vehicles Across Biological Membranes: Current Perspectives And Future Challenges

Authors: Dinh Ha, Ningning Yang, Venkatareddy Nadithe


Exosomes are small intracellular membrane-based vesicles with different compositions that are involved in several biological and pathological processes. The exploitation of exosomes as drug delivery vehicles offers important advantages compared to other nanoparticulate drug delivery systems such as liposomes and polymeric nanoparticles; exosomes are non-immunogenic in nature due to similar composition as body?s own cells. In this article, the origin and structure of exosomes as well as their biological functions are outlined. We will then focus on specific applications of exosomes as drug delivery systems in pharmaceutical drug development. An overview of the advantages and challenges faced when using exosomes as a pharmaceutical drug delivery vehicles will also be discussed.


Exosomes; Nanocarrier; Extracellular vesicles; Drug delivery systems.

Citation: Dinh Ha, Ningning Yang, Venkatareddy Nadithe Exosomes As Therapeutic Drug Carriers And Delivery Vehicles Across Biological Membranes: Current Perspectives And Future Challenges doi:10.1016/j.apsb.2016.02.001

Received: 23 December 2015, Revised: 19 January 2016, Accepted: 26 January 2016, Available online: 8 March 2016

Copyright: © 2016 hinese Pharmaceutical Association and Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


Exosomes provide an enormous promise and a fresh therapeutic area for delivery of different synthetic and biological molecules in cellular therapy. Exosomes as drug delivery vehicles offer a major advantage as there is no unwanted accumulation or homing of exosomes in the liver and (or) avoid the first pass metabolic effect, before reaching target sites. The well characterized exosomes along with long-term safety and natural ability to carry intercellular nucleic acids and therapeutic molecules, across membranes difficult to cross such as BBB, would have major practical significance. Before these drug delivery systems become a therapeutic reality, component characterization and immune reactions need to be clearly understood.

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