Extracellular vesicles for drug delivery 

Most people don’t realise that cells (bacteria and mammalian cells) are just as social as we are. Most cells release extracellular vesicles (nanosized compartments) to deliver cargo to other cells. For example, extracellular vesicles derived from cancer cells have been found to be responsible for cell metastasis.

Additionally, bacteria derived extracellular vesicles can deliver cargo to mammalian cells (intra-specie communication) as well as bacteria.


These vesicles are perfect bio-camouflage compartments which deliver information (in the form of DNA, toxins and cells wall components) over long distances and their composition adapts to the external environment. We are looking at how we can load these extracellular vesicles with nanomedicines that we synthesise within our laboratory.


We are also looking at how we can target these extracellular vesicles using aptamers conjugated to nanoparticles. Aptamers are synthetic nucleic acid-based ligands which can fold and bind to a wide range of targets with high affinity and specificity. They are water-soluble, biocompatible, easy to synthesise and can be used to target extracellular vesicles. Aptamers can be easily conjugated to functional nanoparticles and used to target cells or extracellular vesicles. Once captured, we will combine this technology with our sensing platform, creating improved biosensing.

Thomas Nann Research group

University of Newcastle, Australia
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand