Engineered Extracellular Vesicles: Emerging Therapeutic Strategies for Translational Applications

Jessica N. Ziegler, Changhai Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, membrane-bound vesicles used by cells to deliver biological cargo such as proteins, mRNA, and other biomolecules from one cell to another, thus inducing a specific response in the target cell and are a powerful method of cell to cell and organ to organ communication, especially during the pathogenesis of human disease. Thus, EVs may be utilized as prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers, but they also hold therapeutic potential just as mesenchymal stem cells have been used in therapeutics. However, unmodified EVs exhibit poor targeting efficacy, leading to the necessity of engineered EVS. To highlight the advantages and therapeutic promises of engineered EVs, in this review, we summarized the research progress on engineered EVs in the past ten years, especially in the past five years, and highlighted their potential applications in therapeutic development for human diseases. Compared to the existing stem cell-derived EV-based therapeutic strategies, engineered EVs show greater promise in clinical applications: First, engineered EVs mediate good targeting efficacy by exhibiting a targeting peptide that allows them to specifically target a specific organ or even cell type, thus avoiding accumulation in undesired locations and increasing the potency of the treatment. Second, engineered EVs can be artificially pre-loaded with any necessary biomolecular cargo or even therapeutic drugs to treat a variety of human diseases such as cancers, neurological diseases, and cardiovascular ailments. Further research is necessary to improve logistical challenges in large-scale engineered EV manufacturing, but current developments in engineered EVs prove promising to greatly improve therapeutic treatment for traditionally difficult to treat diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15206
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • cancer
  • engineered extracellular vesicles
  • heart failure
  • neurological disorder
  • therapeutic applications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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