Process development for recovery and purification of exosomes for regenerative therapy

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Biochemical Engineering


Exosomes are emerging as a novel therapeutic candidate with potential to treat multiple indications. ReNeuron and UCL have a strong track record of collaborating in the area of exosome manufacture and we have delivered significant advancement for manufacturing exosomes via an Innovate UK grant and an existing EngD project. However, whilst we have explored options for recovery and purification of exosomes and made significant advancement in the upstream cell culture, there is still work needed to enhance purity of specific exosome subpopulations and to make meaningful measurements of the resulting product. Building on chromatographic methods already developed at UCL to remove process impurities, we will make further advancement towards a regulatory approved product, via enhanced polishing and new quantity and quality measurements. Specifically, we will aim to advance purification technology and measurement tools for high-purity recovery of exosome subpopulations from stem cells.

Planned Impact

The IDC has a proven track record of delivering impact from its research and training activities and this will continue in the new Centre. The main types of impact relate to: (i) provision of highly skilled EngD graduates; (ii) generation of intellectual property (IP) in support of collaborating companies or for new venture creation; (iii) knowledge exchange to the wider bioprocess-using industries; (iv) benefits to patients in terms of new and more cost effective medicines, and (v) benefits to wider society via involvement in public engagement activities and encouraging future generations of researchers.

With regard to training, the provision of future bioindustry leaders is the primary mission of the IDC and some 97% of previous EngD graduates have progressed to relevant bioindustry careers. These highly skilled individuals help catalyse the development and expansion of private sector innovation and biomanufacturing activity. This is of enormous importance to capitalise on emerging markets and to create new jobs and a skilled labour force to underpin the UK economy.

In terms of IP generation each industry-collaborative EngD project will have direct impact on the industry sponsor in terms of new technology generation and improvements to existing processes or procedures. Where substantial IP is generated this has the potential to lead to spin-out company creation and job creation with wider UK economic benefit. IDC research has already led to creation of two UCL spin-out companies focussed on the emerging field of Synthetic Biology (Synthace) and novel nanofibre adsorbents for improved bioseparations (Puridify). Once arising IP is protected the IDC also provides a route for wider dissemination of project outputs and knowledge exchange available to all UK bioprocess-using companies. This occurs via UCL MBI Training Programme modules which have been attended by more than 1000 individuals from over 250 companies to date.

The majority of IDC projects address production of new medicines or process improvements for pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical manufacture which directly benefit healthcare providers and patients. Examples arising from previous EngD projects have included: engineered enzymes used in the synthesis of a novel pharmaceutical; early stage bioprocess development for a new meningitis vaccine; redevelopment of the bioprocess for manufacture of the UK anthrax vaccine; and establishment of a cGMP process for manufacture of a tissue-engineered trachea (this was subsequently transplanted into a child with airway disease and the EngD researcher was featured preparing the trachea in the BBC's Great Ormond Street series). Each of these examples demonstrates IDC impact on the development of cost-effective new medicines and therapies. These will benefit society and provide new tools for the NHS to meet the changing requirements for 21st Century healthcare provision.

Finally, in terms of wider public engagement and society, the IDC has achieved substantial impact via involvement of staff and researchers in activities with schools (STEMnet, HeadStart courses), presentations at science fairs (Big Bang, Cheltenham), delivery of high profile public lectures (Wellcome Trust, Royal Institution) as well as TV and radio presentations. The next generation of IDC researchers will be increasingly involved in such outreach activities to explain how the potential economic and environmental benefits of Synthetic Biology can be delivered safely and responsibly.


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Description We have developed purification technology for extracellular vesicles that will potentially contribute to the scalable manufacture of extracellular vesicle-based clinical products.
Exploitation Route This purification technology could be optimised for commercial extracellular vesicle manufacture or adapted for research-scale extracellular vesicle isolation.
Sectors Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The purification technology developed during this project offers ReNeuron an additional method to purify their extracellular vesicle-based products.
Description Industrial Fellowship
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 10/2021
Description ReNeuron (sponsor of EngD project) 
Organisation Reneuron
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research into extracellular vesicle purification technology that ReNeuron could decide to use in their manufacturing process for clinical-grade extracellular vesicle-based products.
Collaborator Contribution ReNeuron provides crude biological material for the research. They also contribute in-house analytical assays and bring extensive knowledge of extracellular vesicle biology.
Impact Through the use of ReNeuron in-house assays, we have generated data that suggests our purification technology is capable of purifying extracellular vesicle material.
Start Year 2017