Tumor-selective targeted delivery of genes and antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides via the folate receptor

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2004 Apr 29;56(8):1193-204. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2004.01.005.


Gene therapy is a promising approach for the treatment of cancer. The main obstacle for the clinical application of cancer gene therapy is the lack of gene transfer vectors that are safe, efficacious, and tumor-selective. In recent years, targeted gene delivery through cellular receptors, using either viral or nonviral vectors, is emerging as a novel approach to enhance the efficacy of tumor-selective gene delivery. The folate receptor (FR), which is absent in most normal tissues and elevated in over 90% of ovarian carcinomas and at a high frequency in other human malignancies, is an attractive tumor-selective target. FR-targeted vectors include folate-derivatized adenoviruses, cationic polymers, cationic liposomes, and pH-sensitive liposomes. In addition, FR-targeted liposomes have been evaluated for the targeted delivery of antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides (ODNs). These vectors have invariably shown impressive FR-selectivity in cell culture assays and, in addition, shown promising tumor-specific gene transfer activity in several in vivo models. There are important theoretical advantages for FR-targeted vectors over traditional non-targeted vectors in therapeutic gene and oligodeoxyribonucleotides delivery in vivo to cancer cells. Further preclinical characterization of these vectors is, therefore, warranted to determine their potential utility in cancer gene therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins* / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins* / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense / administration & dosage*
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense / genetics
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface* / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface* / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense
  • Receptors, Cell Surface