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Exosomes in the zone

Academia and industry agree that exosomes are ready for prime time

Having had a slow on-ramp to recognition as more than cellular garbage bags, exosomes are gaining status as a potentially transformational technology, with utility in both diagnostics and therapeutics. But the field still has a lag time to reach full speed, as it grapples with CMC hurdles such scale-up, consistency and efficient purification. The newfound interest is underscored by growing activity in both the commercial and academic communities, despite the fact the existence of exosomes has been known for over two decades.

This year alone, more than $135 million in early stage financing was raised for exosome-based companies, and at least three deals were signed.

In January, newco Codiak Biosciences Inc., headed by Biogen Inc. veteran Douglas Williams, raised $61 million and Exosome Diagnostics Inc. raised $60 million, both in series B rounds, and in May, University of Oxford spinout Evox Therapeutics Ltd. raised $14.4 million in seed financing (see "Table: Exosomes in fashion").

In addition, Intrexon Corp. announced in April it was spinning out exosome-based Exotech Bio Inc., and that the companies were partnering to develop cancer therapeutics. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

Exosome Diagnostics also signed deals with Amgen Inc. and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in October and June, respectively, and in the last nine years, at least 12 companies have disclosed exosome-based programs.

Companies have also secured grant funding to advance the technology. Exosome Sciences Inc., a subsidiary of Aethlon Medical Inc., obtained a $16 million grant from NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in January for CMC, and Capricor Therapeutics Inc.

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