Cancer is still a leading cause of death worldwide. Despite the improvements achieved in cancer therapy the outcome is still partially ineffective against different cancer types. Therefore, there is dramatic need to develop novel treatment modalities. Among the novel therapeutic strategies the use of oncolytic viruses (OVs), which are specifically engineered to selectively infect, replicate in and kill cancer cells, is one of the most promising approach. Even though promising efficacy has been observed in preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies, OVs are often administered intra-tumorally (i.t.), thus many solid tumors cannot be treated using this approach. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nanometer- to micron-sized lipid bilayered vesicles able to shuttle biological molecules, such as OVs, even over longer distances. We demonstrated that loading EVs with OVs increased their anti-neoplastic activity compared to the virus or EVs alone. Interestingly, this activity was observed even if the EVs derived from lung cancer were applied to colon carcinoma cell lines and vice versa, suggesting that the EV uptake occurred in vitro without any specificity for the cancer cells from which the vesicles originated. When administered intravenously to the mouse models of cancer, the tumour-derived EVs, demonstrated a selective accumulation of the fluorescence at the tumour site 24 h after injection; confirming the generalized tropism of tumour-derived EVs for any neoplastic tissue, independent of the tumour type or even the species originating the vesicles. Our findings opens new way for the selective delivery of diagnostic/therapeutic agents to solid tumours.

M.Garofalo got a PhD in Biochemistry and Cell and Molecular Biology in 2015 from University Federico II of Naples (Italy) with a foreign co-advisor from University of Helsinki (Finland). After a post-doc at University of Helsinki, her current research is focused on the definition of tools and techniques to improve the delivery of biological drugs and chemotherapeutic agents using oncolytic adenoviruses and extracellular vesicles