Elucidating Design Principles for Engineering Cell-Derived Vesicles to Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Taylor F. Gunnels, Devin M. Stranford, Roxana E. Mitrut, Neha P. Kamat*, Joshua N. Leonard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The ability of pathogens to develop drug resistance is a global health challenge. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) presents an urgent need wherein several variants of concern resist neutralization by monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies and vaccine-induced sera. Decoy nanoparticles—cell-mimicking particles that bind and inhibit virions—are an emerging class of therapeutics that may overcome such drug resistance challenges. To date, quantitative understanding as to how design features impact performance of these therapeutics is lacking. To address this gap, this study presents a systematic, comparative evaluation of various biologically derived nanoscale vesicles, which may be particularly well suited to sustained or repeated administration in the clinic due to low toxicity, and investigates their potential to inhibit multiple classes of model SARS-CoV-2 virions. A key finding is that such particles exhibit potent antiviral efficacy across multiple manufacturing methods, vesicle subclasses, and virus-decoy binding affinities. In addition, these cell-mimicking vesicles effectively inhibit model SARS-CoV-2 variants that evade mAbs and recombinant protein-based decoy inhibitors. This study provides a foundation of knowledge that may guide the design of decoy nanoparticle inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2 and other viral infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2200125
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 12 2022


  • ACE2
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • decoys
  • extracellular vesicles
  • nanovesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials


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