Extracellular vesicles 

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nanoparticles secreted by all cell types that contain proteins, lipids, and nucleic acid species, enclosed by a lipid bilayer membrane. EVs are classified according to their biogenesis, with EVs of endosomal origin referred to as exosomes (50–150 nm), EVs that directly bud from the plasma membrane are termed microvesicles (100–1000 nm), while apoptotic bodies are derived from blebbing of dying cells undergoing apoptosis (800–5000 nm). EVs deliver these source-cell bioactive contents to other cells, thereby mediating intercellular communication that impacts both physiological and pathological states. As such, EVs are being intensively explored as therapeutic agents as well as biomarkers of disease. EVs originating from immune cells such as dendritic cells are being employed in immunotherapy targeting various cancers. Research has also uncovered that EVs, particularly those derived from stem cells, impart innate therapeutic potential via pro-angiogenic, anti-apoptotic, and immunomodulatory actions. EVs can also be bioengineered to deliver desired contents or as drug delivery vehicles.

The REMEDI Extracellular Vesicle programme 

Researchers at REMEDI are focusing on the therapeutic potential of EVs derived from mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC-EVs). A primary focus is on uncovering and understanding the mechanisms mediating the immunomodulatory and tissue healing roles of MSC-EVs in indications such as orthopaedic, vascular, pulmonary, and ocular injury. We aim to fine tune culture techniques that control the physical and chemical cues that can regulate MSC-EV secretion and therapeutic potency. For example, one avenue we are investigating is the pre-activation or “licensing” of MSCs for enhanced secretion of immunomodulatory MSC-EVs for treatment of ocular injury and inflammation. We are also employing MSC-EVs as vehicles for targeted delivery of breast cancer therapeutics. A further focus of the REMEDI EV research platform is the development of automated production systems utilising robotically-controlled bioreactors and large scale separation systems. In addition, we are working on new testing protocols for application as quality release methods for EV production. Finally, we are developing biomaterials as EV-delivery platforms in order to create off-the-shelf EV therapeutics.

Relevant Research Groups