Genetically Engineered Vesicles Target Cancer Cells

Nanovesicles can be bioengineered to target cancer cells and deliver treatments directly, according to research at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Two unfortunate facts about chemotherapy: It can harm healthy cells as well as cancerous ones, and many therapeutic targets stay within cancer cells, making them harder to reach.

Binghamton University biomedical engineers are among those researching the use of cell-derived nanovesicles to deliver therapeutic agents to the interior of cancer cells with better accuracy and efficiency. The small sacks of proteins, lipids and RNA that cells secrete as a method of intercellular communication could be modified to carry medications.

In their new study, published in Nature Communications, the Binghamton team experimented with proteins that facilitate cancer targeting and the fusion of cell membranes.

By identifying overexpressed or cancer-specific antigens that occur in malignant cells and using targeting moieties and fusogen co-equipped nanovesicles, encapsulated drugs are injected into cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

As for what’s next, Wan said: “We need to show their treatment efficacy in large animal models and demonstrate that we don’t need a large amount of these vesicles because we’ll have the membrane fusion function. If you lower the number of vesicles and drugs you need, you lower the cost of the treatment and the side effects.”


Lixue Wang, Guosheng Wang, Wenjun Mao, Yundi Chen, Md. Mofizur Rahman, Chuandong Zhu, Peter M. Prisinzano, Bo Kong, Jing Wang, Luke P. Lee, Yuan Wan. Bioinspired engineering of fusogen and targeting moiety equipped nanovesicles. Nature Communications, 2023; 14 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39181-2

Binghamton University. (2023, August 15). Genetically engineered vesicles target cancer cells more effectively: Drugs, other treatments can be delivered directly to malignant tumors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 16, 2023 from

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