Today, I had two interesting discussions : one was with a physician/entrepreneur who was promoting a private label exosome product and that led to a discussion with Dr. Duncan Ross of Kimera Labs, the makers of the exosomes that I am currently using.
The doctor I spoke with told me a rumor about the Kimera products stating that the product tested as containing only normal saline and therefore inert. She told me this was adversely affecting the reputation of Kimera. This doesn’t match my experience as I blogged about in my second blog of the series, so I called the CEO and chief scientist of Kimera, Dr. Ross, and he told me that he was fed up with having to address the issue.
The issue turns on something that I asked him about privately a month ago at his conference: if the exosomes are lipid bilayer spheres, how do you know what’s inside them? The scientist confessed that you need to first dissolve the membranes without destroying the contents. This is a non-trivial task involving a special mild detergent used in cell biology for just this purpose called Triton X-100 and protocols he developed specifically for this task which would not be used routinely if you just sent a vial to a lab and asked them to test it.
This statement of “nothing but saline” would be like sending a bag of toy balls suspended in saline and asking someone whether there were any toys. The answer would always be no unless you opened the balls, right? Why would someone want to get this misleading information out into the marketplace? It probably has something to do with competition and I can’t repeat Dr. Ross’s explanation of who and why this rumor was circulated.
Unless you gently dissolve the lipid bilayers of the exosomes with detergent that doesn’t also destroy the contents, you can’t know what’s inside. Actually testing a vial of purified exosomes (meaning no solutes from the stem cell broth included) should ALWAYS return a result of nothing but normal saline unless you let them degrade at room temperature to the point of membrane degradation. The whole point of the balls is to protect the proteins and RNA that are inside until they dock with your living cells!
These graphs showing the contents of Kimera exosomes may not be available from other suppliers unless they perform a similar detergent opening procedure.
A machine known as a NanoSight study can only tell you the size and number of particles in suspension. Unless you do other things like examine them microscopically or segregate by surface proteins, you don’t know they’re the exosomes that we want.
It cannot determine whether they are spherical exosomes with the correct surface markers that we want or merely debris such as pieces of meconium in the case of amniotic fluid extracted products. So ultimately we must rely upon the techniques and the integrity of the scientist at the labs to make sure they are extracting exosomes and not just inferring numbers from milligrams of assorted detritus that can be mixed in. When it comes to purchasing and using a product which require such expertise and integrity, it is important to have trust which is always earned by ongoing quality assurance. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know that a lab has integrity when it comes to producing this kind of acellular, resuspended, frozen product. I understand why Dr. Ross was upset but I hope this explanation clears up why testing a freshly thawed vial of exosomes should always return insignificant amounts of proteins and RNA. They are still inside the toy balls!
To understand more, please watch the 6th video in the nine-part series below. As a final aside, Dr. Ross said my best guesses as to how he makes his product was close but there are trade secrets that he uses to do an even better job of isolating only exosomes for his product. He seems to take a lot of pride in his craft, which arguably approaches an art when it comes to the variety of techniques available generally but that required him to invent others for internal use.
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