Extracellular vesicles act as a cell’s transfer signals – these nanoparticles, which contain protein, sugars, and other biological materials, communicate with adjacent cells and tissues to transmit messages, such as whether a cell is healthy or in distress. While this functionality represents significant opportunity for the biologics space, researchers are still building a foundation of knowledge surrounding their biology, application, and ultimate value.
Unlike whole cell therapies, EVs are acellular products, the equivalent of text messages sent back and forth in order to elicit reactions. Because EVs are much smaller than whole cells, they are able to cross biologic barriers with ease, in contrast to the relative mass of whole cells or the immunogenic responses triggered by certain synthetic products. Their small size confers other benefits, as well – too small to convey pathogens such as bacteria or viruses, EVs are also incapable of the unwanted replication or tumor formation that whole cell therapies can occasionally provoke.