A group of nanoscientists from Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center just published a fascinating review paper that looks at the latest efforts to develop new methods of imaging and attacking cancers with nanoparticles. The article appears in the latest issue of Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, and it is available as a free download.
From the abstract:
The field of clinical nanomaterials is enlarging steadily, with more than a billion US dollars of funding allocated to research by US government agencies in the past decade. The first generation of anti-cancer agents using novel nanomaterials has successfully entered widespread use. Newer nanomaterials are garnering increasing interest as potential multifunctional therapeutic agents; these drugs are conferred novel properties, by virtue of their size and shape. The new features of these agents could potentially allow increased cancer selectivity, changes in pharmacokinetics, amplification of cytotoxic effects, and simultaneous imaging capabilities. After attachment to cancer target reactive-ligands, which interact with cell-surface antigens or receptors, these new constructs can deliver cytolytic and imaging payloads. The molecules also introduce new challenges for drug development. While nanoscale molecules are of a similar size to proteins, the paradigms for how cells, tissues and organs of the body react to the non-biological materials are not well understood, because most cellular and metabolic processes have evolved to deal with globular, enzyme degradable molecules. We discuss examples of different materials to illustrate interesting principles for development and future applications of these nanomaterial medicines with emphasis on the possible pharmacologic and safety hurdles for accomplishing therapeutic goals.
Full article in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology: Conscripts of the infinite armada: systemic cancer therapy using nanomaterials…