Using Extracellular Vesicles as an Off-the- Shelf Product for Treating Cancer and Viral Infections

SLU ID 17-004 | Production and Use of Natural Killer (NK) Cell-derived Exosomes for Treating Cancer and Infectious Diseases

Intellectual Property Status


  • Provisional patent application submitted
  • Know-how based
  • Licensee
  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner
  • Investment


Natural killer (NK) cells are a small sub-population of circulating white blood cells that act as the first line of defense in the body’s response to tumors and infectious agents.


Researchers at Saint Louis University (SLU) have optimized a protocol for generating and purifying exosomes with the ability to kill diseased cells, such as tumor cells and virus-infected cells. The exosomes have all of the characteristics of normal natural killer (NK) cells and are derived from the NK3.3 cell line, which is a SLU proprietary NK cell line originating from the peripheral blood of a normal adult male. Because exosomes can be produced in bulk, frozen, and stored indefinitely without losing activity, exosome-based therapies would be more like a pharmaceutical than a biological product and could be given to patients without the need for blood typing or histocompatibility matching.


The potential benefits of this technology include:

  • Increase options to cell therapy.
  • Increase the number of approaches for treating cancer and infectious disease.
  • Increase the effectiveness of therapies.
  • Increase the stability of treatments.
  • Minimize the need for blood typing and cross matching.
  • Minimize adverse effects associated with biologic treatments for cancer and infectious disease.


  • This technology has potential application for treating various types of cancer and infectious disease.


Saint Louis University is seeking partners to further develop and commercialize this technology.