Nanovesicular vaccines: exosomes
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Exosomes are small membrane vesicles derived from late endosome. They are about 30?100 nm in diameter. The secretion of exosomes is a process in which multivesicular bodies fuse with the cell membrane, and all cells that contain multivesicular endocytic compartments could theoretically secrete exosomes. The surprising biological functions of exosomes are only slowly being unveiled, but it is already clear that they serve to remove obsolete membrane proteins and act as messages of inter-cellular communication. Exosomes derived from tumor or antigen-presenting cells have been extensively investigated. They are released into the extracellular environment and fuse with the membranes of neighboring cells, delivering membrane and cytoplasmic proteins from one cell to another. Exosomes carry immunorelevant structures which play important roles in immune response, such as MHC molecules, costimulatory molecules, heat shock proteins, and naive tumor antigens. Therefore they have been suggested as potential vaccines. Consequently, exosomes have shown considerable anti-tumor effect in several studies and are in phase I clinical trials.
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Xiaobo Li,Institute of Brain Research, Calwer Str. 3, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany