Treating brain tumors presents enormous challenges, and there are still poor prognoses in both adults and children. Application of novel targets and potential drugs is hindered by the function of the blood-brain barrier, which significantly restricts therapeutic access to the tumor. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can cross biological barriers, migrate to sites of injuries to exert many healing effects, and be engineered to incorporate different types of cargo, making them an ideal vehicle to transport anti-tumor agents to the central nervous system. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) produced by MSCs (MSC-EVs) have valuable innate properties from parent cells, and are being exploited as cell-free treatments for many neurological diseases. Compared to using MSCs, targeted delivery via MSC-EVs has a better pharmacokinetic profile, yet avoids many critical issues of cell-based systems. As the field of MSC therapeutic applications is quickly expanding, this article aims to give an overall picture for one direction of EV-based targeting of brain tumors, with updates on available techniques, outcomes of experimental models, and critical challenges of this concept.
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