At the end of January, EXO Biologics in Belgium launched ExoXpert. This contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), which is a subsidiary of EXO, provides exosomes to accelerate the development of therapies for customers.

EXO Biologics’ CEO Hugues Wallemacq, PhD, describes an exosome as “a cell-to-cell messenger.” These extracellular vesicles can contain various molecules, including nucleic acids, proteins, and metabolites. As Wallemacq adds, exosomes “will target some specific cells in the body and will change their behavior.”

Cell culture

ExoXpert cultures cells, notably mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), in a bioreactor to amplify them, and those cells release nano-sized exosomes. Then, the exosomes must be filtered from the culture media. In academic applications, the exosomes can be isolated with a centrifuge, but that’s not scalable enough for industrial production. Through a proprietary method, ExoXpert can produce exosomes across a range of scales. “The beauty of our process is that the quality of the exosomes doesn’t change if the production is a couple liters or a few hundred,” Wallemacq says.

The purified exosomes can be used in two ways. “The exosomes can be used directly, with no modification after filtering,” Wallemacq says. Here, the therapy comes from the message that is naturally in the MSC-derived exosome. Alternatively, the exosomes can be loaded with specific molecules, such as RNAs, to target particular disease pathways. “Even unmodified MSC-derived exosomes can be used to treat more than 100 indications,” Wallemacq explains. For example, these exosomes might be used to treat inflammation or to regenerate tissue.

The key future goal for ExoXpert is fully-automated production of exosomes. “The process should be stable and scalable from the start to the end,” Wallemacq says. Maintaining consistency depends on using various sensors during the production of the exosomes. Plus, Wallemacq says, “Automation will be based on AI and software responding to detection of the process in real time.”

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