Extracellular vesicles (EVs), particularly exosomes, represent a crucial subgroup in cellular communication. First proposed by Johnstone et al. in 1983 during the study of erythrocyte differentiation, exosomes were officially identified in 1987 through ultracentrifugation. These membrane-bound small bodies, released from cells through the fusion of multivesicular bodies with the cell membrane, range in diameter from 40 nm to 100 nm. Exosomes display diverse shapes, including flat or spherical bodies, some exhibiting a cup-shaped morphology, especially in bodily fluids where they predominantly appear as spherical entities.
Certain proteins overexpressed in tumor cells may also be found in exosomes, and their composition varies depending on the cell origin, expressing unique biological proteins. Tumor-derived exosomes (Tex) play a pivotal role in tumor development, carrying a significant amount of mRNA and microRNA (miRNA). Initially considered cellular waste “garbage bags,” exosomes are actively secreted by immune cells, stem cells, and tumor cells under physiological and pathological conditions, facilitating the transport of biomolecules and contributing to tumor pathogenesis.
Exosomes possess distinct biological characteristics, including their small size, allowing evasion of mononuclear phagocytes and traversal of vascular barriers, making them prevalent in bodily fluids. Their phospholipid bilayer structure provides biological stability, rendering them resistant to degradation. Tumor cells secrete more exosomes than normal cells, exhibiting high heterogeneity in size and surface proteins, valuable for distinguishing between different tumors and normal cells.
Within the tumor microenvironment, exosomes play a critical role in cellular communication, influencing tumor initiation, development, metastasis, immune evasion, and drug resistance.
However, cancer therapy by exosomes not only plays a role in the functional research and diagnostic applications of major diseases such as malignant tumors but also garners attention in the field of medical aesthetics. Positioned as “anti-aging treasures” and a “revolutionary innovative technology,” exosomes are considered the “fountain of youth” in beauty enhancement. Their applications extend beyond functional skincare to include anti-aging, regenerative repair, and addressing issues like skin aging, texture improvement, skin tone alteration, and hair loss.
The “2022-2040 Exosome Therapy Market Report” by Roots Analysis forecasts a 41% annual growth rate in the exosome therapy market. Exosome beauty therapy, utilizing exosomes rich in ribonucleic acid (RNA) and membrane proteins, involves topical application or skin introduction. Through exosome signaling and nutrient delivery, it regulates cells, promotes continuous regeneration, and improves skin beauty, with applications in anti-aging, whitening, sensitive repair, inflammation repair, and scar repair.
On the market, exosomes are available in three forms:
- Frozen exosomes: Primarily for laboratory research, unsuitable for large-scale production due to complex storage and application requirements.
- Freeze-dried powder exosomes: Susceptible to loss of activity due to changes in membrane structure during vacuum freezing.
- Vitalized exosomes: Suspended in a liquid matrix, maintaining structural integrity and activity at an optimal temperature of 37°C, suitable for storage, transportation, and use.
These forms are closely linked to upstream exosome analysis technologies, including isolation, purification, engineering, and manufacturing. Exosome analysis facilitates the discovery of new biomarkers, providing additional options for early disease diagnosis and treatment.