Exosomes are extracellular vesicles. They are believed to aid in cell-cell communication and transmission of disease states. Exosomes can be thought of as “molecular mail carriers.” These carriers help transmit information to other cells. Scientists did not give much thought to exosomes in the past. It was very unclear the exact role they played in the body. Fortunately, more scientific discoveries have been made. Now, exosomes are showing promise in the fields of regenerative medicine and drug delivery.
Exosomes are fat molecules. These fat molecules transmit protein and genetic material from cell to cell. Research is being conducted, in order to better understand exosomes and their potential use in drug delivery and regenerative medicine. Research has shown exosomes are vital to spreading disease. However, this also means exosomes may have the ability to stop the spread of disease.
Currently, scientists are studying ways to manipulate exosomes. If successful, exosomes may eventually be used to carry RNA therapies, viral gene therapies, and gene editing tools. The ability to safely and effectively carry and deliver these tools throughout the body is crucial. It presents the possibility of delivering unique treatments to individuals.
Oftentimes, the necessary drugs are incapable of reaching certain areas in the body, due to lipid-based barriers. Exosomes are made of lipids, which allow them to cross these barriers while carrying various drug therapies. Once past the barrier, the drug therapies are delivered to the afflicted part of the body.
Exosomes can also be used in the field of regenerative medicine. Exosomes have been shown to play a role in the worsening of degenerative disease. They increase inflammation and communicate stress to surrounding cells. These actions lead to the worsening of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. However, research has shown that exposing stem cells from an older organism to a younger one, allows for rejuvenation by way of exosomes. Stem cell therapy, in combination with exosome therapy, has shown much promise in developing more effective treatments for degenerative diseases.
Currently, research is being done around the world to better understand exosomes and their potential medical implications. Researchers are focusing on treating a plethora of diseases, with a variety of exosomes. Exosomes are being used to treat problems in orthopedics, immunotherapy, aesthetics, and more. While some researchers only stick to FDA approved therapies, others are treating without proven claims.
It is clear that no person fully understands how exosomes work. While they have shown promise, they are not completely understood. Exosomes encompass a wide class of vesicles within the body. This makes it difficult to understand exactly how they work. Pharmaceutical companies continue to pour money into research, even though it is not fully understood how exosomes work.
Exosomes provide hope. They offer the potential to treat diseases we once thought untreatable. There is always a risk when something is not fully understood. However, it would present an even bigger risk to ignore the possibilities of exosomes. It is ironic to realize the very thing that spreads disease, may just be the very thing that helps prevent it in the future.