Novel Exosome Technologies Are Going to Transform Healthcare

Neighbouring cells secreting exosomes into the extracellular matrix

A new hope for complex diseases

The year is 2029, my mother has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after a routine blood test. Some of her blood exosomes were found to carry cancer-specific cargo. Fortunately, her tumour signature is identified quite early and she benefits rapidly from ready-to-use targeted exosome therapy. It inhibits the growth of her tumour, boosts her tumour immune response and resets her health state back to normal. We are more than relieved knowing that she will be able to continue seeing her grandkids as she used to. In 2021, she would have undergone frequent and painful cancer therapies with uncertain outcome.

What are exosomes?

Cell secreting exosomes into the extracellular matrix (with legend)

Exosomes are shipping containers for commerce between cells.

Until recently, researchers believed that exosomes were simply waste bins to be removed in order to maintain the city’s balance (homeostasis) but they gradually realized that many of them are in fact important trading systems across the entire globe (body). They can travel across any terrain (such as extracellular matrix, bone, tissue, vessel and even the blood-brain-barrier) and are found in every biofluid. This fascinating discovery has now been well evidenced by studies over the last few years.

Why now?

First references of exosomes date back to the 1980’s and it was only in 1996 that a tiny proportion of the academic community realized that these may be more than just cellular waste. The real breakthrough was in 2006-7 after the dual discovery that exosomes transport and transmit RNA from secreting to receiving cells. In the following decade, the field grew exponentially. Novel technologies were introduced (such as Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis in 2011 or improved Flow Cytometry in 2015) allowing more detailed analyses which, altogether, helped to improve our biological understanding.

Exosome publications per year based on PubMed

Novel exosome technologies can transform healthcare forever.

2020 has however muted many critics. When handled more rigorously, exosomes can become fascinating tools. In a recent Cell paper, exosome protein cargo signatures from a single blood draw offered a 94% specificity and 90% sensitivity for the detection of 16 cancer types. Despite using tailored but old research techniques, this study was also able to identify the tissue of the cancer’s origin. The same year, the first engineered exosome therapeutic entered human clinical trial for cancer treatment and has already displayed good tolerability. It was also shown that the therapeutic administration of carefully selected non-engineered exosomes could reproducibly promote the regeneration of damaged tissue in vivo. Novel exosome technologies can transform healthcare forever.

Transforming the standard of care

I believe that the current standard of care may be significantly transformed this decade as we are about to change our way of interacting at the cellular level, most notably thanks to exosomes: either by redirecting/altering exosome cargo to modify any specific cell (therapeutic applications) or by intercepting them to get a snapshot of the current cellular activity (diagnostic applications).

About me

I am a biotech entrepreneur, inventor and founder & CEO of Mursla, a Cambridge-based company focused on exosome biomedical applications. I was trained in biophysics at the University of Cambridge (Cavendish Lab) after an international career as a biotech investment banker at J.P. Morgan and a Master of Science in Management at HEC Paris.

Founder & CEO @Mursla. Focused on novel exosome-based biomedical applications. Alumna @Cambridge_Uni biophysics, @JPMorgan healthcare IBD & @HECParis

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store