On March 12th, Advanced Functional Materials, an international prestigious academic journal, online published the important research results of Professor Bi-Feng Liu's group at Huazhong University of Science & Technology, entitled “Designer Exosomes for Active Targeted Chemo Photothermal Synergistic Tumor Therapy”.
Exosomes are nanovesicles with a lipid bilayer size of 50 to 150 nm that are secreted by living cells and released into the extracellular environment. Exosomes, with their naturally-derived substance transport properties, intrinsic long-term blood circulation, and excellent biocompatibility, can deliver a wide range of drugs including various chemical drugs, proteins, nucleic acids, and gene drugs. It shows huge potential in the field of drug carriers. Research on drug delivery based on exosomes has aroused general interest in recent years.
In 2017, the Professor Bi-Feng Liu's team first proposed a chemical editing method to engineer exosomes and use microfluidic chips to quickly and efficiently isolate exosomes. The research results were published in international famous journals “ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces” and “Nanoscale”. However, drug release from exosomes at defined targets is not controllable. Moreover, endowing exosomes with satisfactory cancer-targeting ability is highly challenging.
Here, for the first time, a biological and synthetic hybrid designer exosome is described with photo-responsive functionalities based on a donor cell-assisted membrane modification strategy. Practically, the designer exosome effectively accumulates at target tumor sites via dual ligand-mediated endocytosis. Then the localized hyperthermia induced by the conjunct gold nanorods under near-infrared irradiation impacts the permeability of exosome membrane to enhance drug release from exosomes, thus inhibiting tumor relapse in a programmable manner. The versatile designer exosome can provide functional platforms by engineering with more multifarious functionalities from synthetic materials to achieve individualized precise cancer therapy in the future.