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Special Feature

The exo factor

  • from Shaastra :: vol 03 issue 05 :: Jun 2024
A cross-section of exosomes — extracellular, liquid-filled sacs.

Can a type of cell secretion be turned into a safe vehicle for drug delivery? Researchers believe so.

The chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, which is 50 years old, is both effective and affordable. However, the drug — the first line of treatment for many solid cancers — has a significant side effect: cardiotoxicity, or damage to the heart. This is an 'off-target' effect, where a drug damages both healthy and tumorous cells, points out Swastika Paul, Co-founder of a start-up seeking solutions to the problem.

To this end, scientists at Bhubaneswar-based ExSURE, where Paul is the Chief Scientific Officer, have encapsulated doxorubicin in exosomes or extracellular vesicles isolated from human dendritic cells, a type of immune cell. The surface of the exosome was engineered to overexpress proteins that can bind to markers (such as other proteins) on the tumorous cells. Such an engineered exosome can deliver the entire drug to the tumour, says Paul, making it effective at a lower dose and with fewer side effects.


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