Research Topic

Extracellular Vesicles as Next Generation Therapeutics

About this Research Topic

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, circular structures derived from any type of cells, which play an important role in cell-to-cell communication. They are composed of a cell membrane enclosing bioactive components, such as small RNAs, DNAs, proteins and lipids, which can be transferred to other cells. Upon cargo delivery, EVs may reprogram fate and behaviour of the target cells. With their excellent biocompatibility and the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, EVs constitute very powerful tools for the development of next generation therapeutics. With this respect, EVs are already in advanced development as intrinsic and extrinsic medicines, delivering therapeutic drugs, such as proteins, coding and non-coding RNAs and the components of genome editing system, including the CRISPR/Cas9 particles, in vitro and in vivo. Owing to such properties, interest in using EVs as delivery platforms for therapeutic cargo is constantly growing, raising the hope for the development of safe and efficient acellular therapies for various diseases in the future.

Targeted and efficient delivery of therapeutic substances to certain tissues and organs constitutes the basis of an overall success of a treatment. Controlled drug delivery and optimal drug dosage may substantially reduce or even eliminate toxic side effects and decrease the costs of a treatment. Owing to their properties, EVs carry great potential to overcome limitations of current drug delivery platforms. Thus, EVs may be useful as trojan horses to combat cancer. On the other hand, EVs derived from stem/progenitor cells can be successfully applied in applications ranging from regenerative medicine to inflammatory illnesses. Importantly, when containing DNA/RNA modifying enzymes, including designer nucleases, EVs can, in principle, be harnessed for genome editing purposes, to treat genetic diseases. Finally, EVs can be modified to present antigens and serve as platforms for vaccine development.

The goal of this Research Topic is to present recent advances in utilizing EVs as future medicines, regarding different aspects of EVs engineering, manufacturing and testing their therapeutic efficacy. This includes: i) demonstration of the state-of-the-art methods of enhanced cargo packaging into EVs; ii) targeted modification of their surface to increase tropism towards certain tissues or organs; iii) using EVs to fight common diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, neuronal disorders, diabetes, among others; iv) EV-based delivery of the genome editing particles, including the CRISPR/Cas9 system; v) EV manufacturing to an advanced clinical stage; vi) EV-based vaccines, for example for COVID-19.

This Research Topic welcomes submissions of Original Research articles and Reviews covering one of the following research areas:

1. EVs derived from various cell types, including stem cells, cancer cells, blood cells, as drug delivery platforms
2. Novel methods of enhanced cargo packaging into EVs
3. Specific modifications of the EV membrane for targeted delivery of their bioactive components to a particular type of cells/tissues/organs
4. EVs as intrinsic medicines delivering a defined therapeutic cargo in the form of proteins, small RNAs and lipids to enhance tissue regeneration
5. EVs as delivery vehicles of the CRISPR/Cas9 system or other artificial nucleases and recombinases for the genome and epigenome editing
6. EVs as platforms for vaccine development
7. GMP-manufacturing of clinical-grade EVs.


Keywords: Extracellular vehicles, stem cells, Cas9, CRISPR


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, circular structures derived from any type of cells, which play an important role in cell-to-cell communication. They are composed of a cell membrane enclosing bioactive components, such as small RNAs, DNAs, proteins and lipids, which can be transferred to other cells. Upon cargo delivery, EVs may reprogram fate and behaviour of the target cells. With their excellent biocompatibility and the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, EVs constitute very powerful tools for the development of next generation therapeutics. With this respect, EVs are already in advanced development as intrinsic and extrinsic medicines, delivering therapeutic drugs, such as proteins, coding and non-coding RNAs and the components of genome editing system, including the CRISPR/Cas9 particles, in vitro and in vivo. Owing to such properties, interest in using EVs as delivery platforms for therapeutic cargo is constantly growing, raising the hope for the development of safe and efficient acellular therapies for various diseases in the future.

Targeted and efficient delivery of therapeutic substances to certain tissues and organs constitutes the basis of an overall success of a treatment. Controlled drug delivery and optimal drug dosage may substantially reduce or even eliminate toxic side effects and decrease the costs of a treatment. Owing to their properties, EVs carry great potential to overcome limitations of current drug delivery platforms. Thus, EVs may be useful as trojan horses to combat cancer. On the other hand, EVs derived from stem/progenitor cells can be successfully applied in applications ranging from regenerative medicine to inflammatory illnesses. Importantly, when containing DNA/RNA modifying enzymes, including designer nucleases, EVs can, in principle, be harnessed for genome editing purposes, to treat genetic diseases. Finally, EVs can be modified to present antigens and serve as platforms for vaccine development.

The goal of this Research Topic is to present recent advances in utilizing EVs as future medicines, regarding different aspects of EVs engineering, manufacturing and testing their therapeutic efficacy. This includes: i) demonstration of the state-of-the-art methods of enhanced cargo packaging into EVs; ii) targeted modification of their surface to increase tropism towards certain tissues or organs; iii) using EVs to fight common diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, neuronal disorders, diabetes, among others; iv) EV-based delivery of the genome editing particles, including the CRISPR/Cas9 system; v) EV manufacturing to an advanced clinical stage; vi) EV-based vaccines, for example for COVID-19.

This Research Topic welcomes submissions of Original Research articles and Reviews covering one of the following research areas:

1. EVs derived from various cell types, including stem cells, cancer cells, blood cells, as drug delivery platforms
2. Novel methods of enhanced cargo packaging into EVs
3. Specific modifications of the EV membrane for targeted delivery of their bioactive components to a particular type of cells/tissues/organs
4. EVs as intrinsic medicines delivering a defined therapeutic cargo in the form of proteins, small RNAs and lipids to enhance tissue regeneration
5. EVs as delivery vehicles of the CRISPR/Cas9 system or other artificial nucleases and recombinases for the genome and epigenome editing
6. EVs as platforms for vaccine development
7. GMP-manufacturing of clinical-grade EVs.


Keywords: Extracellular vehicles, stem cells, Cas9, CRISPR


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

21 December 2020 Abstract
20 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

21 December 2020 Abstract
20 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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