Exosome-based Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines

Once regarded as insipid blebs shed by cells as a mere mechanism for garbage disposal, exosomes are now considered to be key messengers of intercellular crosstalk, which encapsulate and transfer functional molecular cargo to recipient cells. Numerous studies have indicated the roles of exosomes in tumor immunity. Creative Biolabs has experts in exosome and focuses on the field of exosome-based cancer therapeutics for years. We will help you evaluate the potential of dendritic cell- and tumor-derived exosomes in cancer immunotherapy.

Exosome-mediated immunosuppression of tumor immunity.

Fig.1 Exosome-mediated immunosuppression of tumor immunity. (Liu Y, et al. 2015)

Exosomes in Cancer Progression

Exosomes can be released by different types of cell, including cancer and non-cancer cells. Wrapped in bilayer membranes of exosomes, the contents are very stable even after being transferred to a distant place. This intercellular communication of exosomes involves a variety of physiological and pathological processes, especially cancers. This subtle and complex system can manipulate local and distant environment to promote tumor growth, invasion, metastasis, and even tumorigenesis.

Potential Exosome-Based Oncological Therapies

The use of exosomes as delivery vehicles contributes to the realization of gene and biological therapies in oncology. It is well known that successful tumor treatment lies in the ability to preferentially target tumor cells while minimizing damage to normal healthy tissue. In this regard, exosomes provide significant advantages for improving the therapeutic index of cancer treatment because they have the potential to target cells for intracellular delivery of their contents. These abilities can be attributed to the multivalent display of their cell-derived surface fractions, the complexity of which would be difficult to reproduce in synthetic nanoparticles.

Strategies for exosome-based tumor immunotherapy.

Fig.2 Strategies for exosome-based tumor immunotherapy. (Liu Y, et al. 2015)

Dendritic Cell-derived Exosomes (DEXs) as Tumor Vaccine

DEX has been used as a cell-free vaccine to trigger host anti-tumor immune responses to inhibit tumor growth. Through intercellular communication, exosomes can trigger the immune system to elicit anti-tumor response, in which APC occupies a central location. It was found that B lymphocytes secrete extracellular antigen-presenting vesicles, which carry major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, costimulatory and adhesion molecules and can directly stimulate an effective CD4+ T cell response against cancer cells. DEX elicits a specific CTL response and promotes anti-tumor responses in a T cell-dependent manner.

Modified Tumor Cell-derived Exosomes (TEXs) as Tumor Vaccine

TEXs carry tumor antigens and can also trigger effective antigen presentation of APC. These exosomes are considered to be ideal resources of antigens for DC due to their ease of access and non-invasiveness. The use of TEX as tumor vaccines depends on the type of cancer and the immunogenicity of their antigens. The modifications of TEXs is developed to improve their immunogenicity, aiming to make full use of TEXs as tumor vaccines.

  • Genetic modification. Exosomes from genetic modificative original cells have improved immunogenicity and induce DC maturation and CTL responses efficiently.
  • External stimulus to drive tumor cell release of exosomes.
  • Direct fusion of TEXs with antigens and combined therapies.

Exosomes have important functions in tumor immunity. How to make full use of the advantages while bypassing the disadvantages of exosomes in modulating tumor immunity is attracting more and more attention. Creative Biolabs has always been serving vaccine researchers worldwide with its professionalism and service awareness. Please feel free to contact us for advice on exosome-based therapeutic cancer vaccines.


  1. Liu Y, et al. The exosomes in tumor immunity. Oncoimmunology. 2015, 4(9): e1027472.

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