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Exosome is a huge buzz word right now. Researchers have recently amped up activity as we’ve learned more about their potential clinical applications. This includes potential for arthritis and chronic pain relief, help for autoimmune syndromes, organ failure, neurologic conditions and aesthetic procedures. Also, researchers have also noticed significant potential for cancer treatment in the future.
So what is an exosome?
First of all, it should be noted that an exosome is not a cell. It has no nucleus and cannot divide. It is a cellular byproduct, known as an extracellular vesicle.
Exosomes are really the signals that stem cells send out. They need to communicate with other cells and they do that through exosomes. When millions of stem cells are administered IV for example, they will release signals (exosomes) and those then prompt the release millions of stem cells that are in one’s body.
Exosomes are not unique to stem cells. Viruses, bacteria, and many other cell types produce exosomes as byproducts too.
Exosomes are NOT a stem cell. If you imagine a stem cell is wrapped in an oil film, part of that film forms a bubble and then
What Happens to One’s Exosomes with Aging?
We know that as we age, stem cells don’t’ send out as many exosomes as they did when they were young. If we take stem cells from an older person and stimulate them, they produce exosomes. But a young person’s stem cells when stimulated produce MANY more. So age matters tremendously when it comes to numbers of exosomes produced.
If you take the stem cells of an older person and younger person together in the same media and put a barrier between them, you find something interesting happens. Even though they are not touching, the stem cells of the old person start to become young again. What happens is the young stem cells are communicating via exosomes and giving them the info they need to rejuvenate.
This is NOT the same as “young blood therapy”, but it uses the same principle. The experiment included 2 rats spliced together with their circulation. And the older rat became younger (physiologically). The way that works is not because the blood is “magic”, it’s because of the exosomes being released from the younger cells and incorporating into the older cells.
What’s the History of Exosomes?
Exosomes have actually been around for a LONG time. And they’ve been poorly understood for a long time. Initially they were looked at for medication transport mechansims. Their safety has been researched heavily already.
Pharmaceutical companies have been looking extensively at exosomes for potential drug transport. If they can be instructed to deliver certain drugs to certain cells, the potential for helping with serious diseases like cancer is tremendous.
Currently, there is a lot of research looking at exosomes for conditions like arthritis, organ failure, neurologic issues and more. In addition, they are being looked at extensively for aesthetic procedures as well.
What’s the Theory as to Why They are Beneficial?
Exosomes control the cellular environment. If a cell is sick, the exosome can provide info to help it “fix” itself. It’s not magic, there is actually info being implanted to help. This may include DNA, micro RNA and other information packets.
Who can benefit?
We don’t have massive studies yet. When we analyze exosomes, we can see there are many anti-inflammatory cytokines that are in there. The reports are showing immense anti-inflammatory response so people with autoimmune disease may see relief. Keep in mind these reports are small, and there are no large studies at all. This may include Lyme DZ, RA, Lupus, Psoriasis and other autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s. DJD may also benefit according to these small studies.
In cosmetic areas – you create inflammation with the exosomes such as with microneedling, and then exosomes tell the cells “this is how you should be” and you end up with a much younger looking skin by rejuvenating. Same thing with the scalp with hair restoration.
As with stem cells, we don’t have Level 1 clinical studies to definitively state it is a treatment for “x” condition.
We know that the stem cells being used and the work they do is often stimulated from the exosomes they release. If we use our own stem cells, and then put them back in you will get an exosome response. However, if you use a younger source, the response will be MUCH bigger.
With exosomes, you can have a certain amount of control over them. You can potentially gene manipulate them in order to facilitate production of certain types of cells. This is where a lot of the future of medicine is headed!
Exosomes may potentially help with systemic rejuvenation when given IV. However, they are not a treatment that will cure disease. Exosomes are being looked at as a way of “breaking the inflammatory cycle” in patients who are experience various types of disease.
How long do they work in the body?
Exosomes have been shown to trigger an immediate reaction which lasts about 24 hours. Then a delayed response where the mRNA that is inserted into the target cell and helps reprogram the cell. This takes 6 to 8 weeks with continued effects for months after that.
So individuals may see an effect within the first few days, then it may wear off big time after that. Then weeks afterwards, the delayed response may kick in with benefits being seen.
What is the Number of Exosome Doses Needed?
There’s no standard answer. Treatment outcome is individualized and some do well with a single application, while others may need multiple.
Do exosomes multiply like stem cells?
No they don’t. They are not cells. They can help other cells proliferate with the information they transfer.
How are exosomes screened for safety?
The same way that stem cells are evaluated in an FDA Certified lab with GMP. It is a rigorous process.
Can the body reject exosomes?
There are no immune markers on the surface of exosomes. So very very unlikely.
Any tumor potential with exosomes??
No, they do not multiply. They also do not engraft into the DNA.
How do you know if they are working?
The bi-phasic response may be associated with a certain set of symptoms. These may indicate that the exosomes are helping in the repair and regulation process. In the immediate phase people generally report a decrease of their inflammatory symptoms. The next few weeks people may experience light flu-like symptoms and fluctuating energy. After six to eight weeks the second phase of the response takes place where the information transferred by the is used by the cells to regulate and reprogram the cell function and help with repair processes. Typically, early benefits of therapy are observed in 3-4 months. However, it is not uncommon, to see the benefits after 9 to 12 months.
Can exosomes help with neurodegenerative conditions?
Research has shown that exosomes can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and stimulate neuronal differentiation, growth of neurons, and reduce inflammatory processes within the brain tissue. This may result in future benefit to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Post Stroke and other issues.