Much of the medical research and clinical applications of stem cell therapy have thus far focused on stem cells and their potential to repair damaged or diseased tissue that has not responded to conventional therapies. Though there has been a lot of evidence to suggest that the use of certain types of stem cells can be safe, experts have suggested that strategies for therapy using exosomes that can avoid the use of living stem cells may provide an even better opportunity to slow the progression of various diseases.
Paracrine secretions have been shown to play a significant role in the ability of stem cells to improve disease conditions, and exosomes are a key element of these secretions. From a functional standpoint, exosomes enable stem cells to transfer their genetic information to other cells residing in the damaged tissue.
Because these are responsible for some of the critical benefits of stem cells, researchers have speculated that the use of exosomes rather than stem cells may provide specific advantages in some therapeutic contexts. A review in Stem Cells International has provided a comprehensive overview of what is known so far about the potential role of exosomes in stem cell therapy.
Exosomes are released from a wide variety of stem cell types and influence the functioning of nearby cells and tissues. Their use alone may offer better therapeutic results. Indeed, they have shown particular promise in addressing symptoms of many conditions.
Researchers are hopeful that exosomes will be able to help patients in new and innovative ways, more research is needed to determine the best way to apply them in stem cell therapy.
Reference: Han, C. et al. (2016). Exosomes and their therapeutic potentials of stem cells. Stem Cells International, 1-11.