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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01070

Red Blood Cell Membrane Processing for Biomedical Applications

  • 1University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
  • 2Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy

Red blood cells (RBC) are actually exploited as innovative drug delivery systems with unconventional and convenient properties. Because of a long in vivo survival and a non-random removal from circulation, RBC can be loaded with drugs and/or contrasting agents without affecting these properties and maintaining the original immune competence. However, native or drug-loaded RBC, can be modified decorating the membrane with peptides, antibodies or small chemical entities so favoring the targeting of the processed RBC to specific cells or organs. Convenient modifications have been exploited to induce immune tolerance or immunogenicity, to deliver antibodies capable of targeting other cells, and to deliver a number of constructs that can recognize circulating pathogens or toxins. The methods used to induce membrane processing useful for biomedical applications include the use of crosslinking agents and bifunctional antibodies, biotinylation and membrane insertion. Another approach includes the expression of engineered membrane proteins upon ex vivo transfection of immature erythroid precursors with lentiviral vectors, followed by in vitro expansion and differentiation into mature erythrocytes before administration to a patient in need. Several applications have now reached the clinic and a couple of companies that take advantage from these properties of RBC are already in Phase 3 with selected applications. The peculiar properties of the RBC and the active research in this field by a number of qualified investigators, have opened new exciting perspectives on the use of RBC as carriers of drugs or as cellular therapeutics.

Keywords: RBC targeting, RBC carriers, RBC membrane modifications, RBC circulation, Drug Targeting

Received: 24 May 2019; Accepted: 05 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Giampaolo Minetti, University of Pavia, Italy

Reviewed by:

James Palis, University of Rochester, United States
Emile Van Den Akker, Sanquin Diagnostic Services, Netherlands  

Copyright: © 2019 Magnani, Rossi, Fraternale and Bianchi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Mauro Magnani, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy,