During the past years, exosomes have aroused widespread attention for their potential use of drug delivery. Based on years of experience and advanced technology platform, Creative Biolabs is now combining the highly immune response of exosomes with vaccine development to facilitate the treatment of various immune-related diseases, especially for cancer immunotherapy. Now, we are happy to introduce dendritic cell-derived exosomes (DEX)-based vaccines development to global clients.

Introduction of Dendritic Cell-derived Exosomes (DEX)

In recent years, DC-based vaccines have emerged as an important strategy for immunotherapy, especially for the treatment of cancer. However, the use of DCs outside clinical studies is hampered by the difficulties inherent to cell therapy strategies and, furthermore, in the case of DCs specifically against cancer, also by the compromised function of these cells in cancer patients. To overcome these challenges, DC-derived exosomes (DEX) have been developed as an alternative approach of cancer vaccines. DEX are nanometer-sized membrane vesicles secreted by viable dendritic cells. Similarly to all other exosomes, DEX has a size of 30-100nm and are initially formed within the cell by the inward budding of endosomal membranes. It has been found that the molecular composition of DEX includes surface expression of functional MHC-peptide complexes, costimulatory molecules, and other components that interact with immune cells.

DEX interactions with immune cells.Fig.1 DEX interactions with immune cells. (Pitt, 2014)

Advantages of Dendritic Cell-derived Exosomes (DEX)-based Vaccines

Conventional treatments for cancer include the use of chemotherapeutic drugs, radiotherapy, and interventional surgery in the case of solid (and operable) tumors. Recently, DEX has been heralded as new therapeutic solutions for cancer, by priming the body’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Studies have shown that DEX maintain both the essential immunostimulatory faculties of DCs (e.g., sharing the ability to present antigens to T cells) and the stable nature of exosomal membranes which allows their frozen storage for at least 6 months. In particular, when dendritic cells are pulsed with cancer antigens or tumor peptides, DEX has been shown to elicit stronger immune responses toward cancer cells, with upregulation of specific antibody release and cytokine production. It has also been shown that DEX suppresses tumor growth and eradication of established tumors by CD8+ T cells and CD4+ T cells, as well as breaking tolerance completely by resistance to secondary tumor challenge.

As a new vaccine strategy for cancer immunotherapy, DEX remains promising with potential for improvement. The successful development of DEX-based immunotherapy will further expand the weaponry to battle cancer. In addition to DEX-based vaccine, tumor cell-derived exosomes (TEX)-based cancer vaccines and ascetic cell-derived exosomes (AEX)-based vaccines have also been developed for immunotherapy. For more information, please feel free to contact us.


  1. Pitt, J.M.; et.al. Dendritic cell–derived exosomes as immunotherapies in the fight against cancer. The Journal of Immunology. 2014, 193(3):1006-11.

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