Publications & Posters

Before Translating Extracellular Vesicles into Personalized Diagnostics and Therapeutics: What We Could Do

Molecular Pharmaceutics | May 21, 2024

Cheng CA

Mol Pharm. 2024


Extracellular vesicle (EV) research is rapidly advancing from fundamental science to translational applications in EV-based personalized therapeutics and diagnostics. Yet, fundamental questions persist regarding EV biology and mechanisms, particularly concerning the heterogeneous interactions between EVs and cells. While we have made strides in understanding virus delivery and intracellular vesicle transport, our comprehension of EV trafficking remains limited. EVs are believed to mediate intercellular communication through cargo transfer, but uncertainties persist regarding the occurrence and quantification of EV-cargo delivery within acceptor cells. This ambiguity is crucial to address, given the significant translational impact of EVs on therapeutics and diagnostics. This perspective article does not seek to provide exhaustive recommendations and guidance on EV-related studies, as these are well-articulated in position papers and statements by the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV), including the ‘Minimum Information for Studies of Extracellular Vesicles’ (MISEV) 2014, MISEV2018, and the recent MISEV2023. Instead, recognizing the multilayered heterogeneity of EVs as both a challenge and an opportunity, this perspective emphasizes novel approaches to facilitate our understanding of diverse EV biology, address uncertainties, and leverage this knowledge to advance EV-based personalized diagnostics and therapeutics. Specifically, this perspective synthesizes current insights, identifies opportunities, and highlights exciting technological advancements in ultrasensitive single EV or “digital” profiling developed within the author’s multidisciplinary group. These newly developed technologies address technical gaps in dissecting the molecular contents of EV subsets, contributing to the evolution of EVs as next-generation liquid biopsies for diagnostics and providing better quality control for EV-based therapeutics.