Functional intersections between extracellular vesicles and oncolytic therapies

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2021 Nov;42(11):883-896. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2021 Sep 28.


Minimally invasive focal therapies for nonviral oncolysis are a cornerstone of cancer therapeutics. Our ability to optimally deploy oncolytic therapies and identify synergistic combination approaches requires a deeper understanding of elicited biological responses. Extracellular vesicles (EV), which orchestrate a variety of pathophysiological processes and have a critical role in the evolution of primary and disseminated tumors, are now known to be potently modulated by oncolytic focal therapies, such as radiotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and therapeutic ultrasound (TUS). In this review, we summarize the diverse impacts of the aforementioned therapeutic modalities on EV biology, and highlight the most recent advances in EV-based drug delivery systems leveraging these modalities.

Keywords: cancer; exosomes; extracellular vesicles; focal therapy; oncolytic therapy; therapeutic ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy