Avidin-biotin technology in targeted therapy

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2010 May;7(5):551-64. doi: 10.1517/17425241003677749.


Importance of the field: The goal of drug targeting is to increase the concentration of the drug in the vicinity of the cells responsible for disease without affecting healthy cells. Many approaches in cancer treatment are limited because of their broad range of unwanted side effects on healthy cells. Targeting can reduce side effects and increase efficacy of drugs in the patient.

Areas covered in this review: Avidin, originally isolated from chicken eggs, and its bacterial analogue, streptavidin, from Streptomyces avidinii, have extremely high affinity for biotin. This unique feature is the basis of avidin-biotin technology. This article reviews the current status of avidin-biotin systems and their use for pretargeted drug delivery and vector targeting.

What the reader will gain: The reader will gain an understanding of the following approaches using the avidin-biotin system: i) targeting antibodies and therapeutic molecules are administered separately leading to a reduction of drug dose in normal tissues compared with conventional (radio)immunotherapies; ii) introducing avidin gene into specific tissues by local gene transfer, which subsequently can sequester and concentrate considerable amounts of therapeutic ligands; and iii) enabling transductional targeting of gene therapy vectors.

Take home message: Avidin and biotin technology has proved to be an extremely versatile tool with broad applications, such as pretargeting, delivering avidin gene into cells enabling targeting of biotinylated compounds and targeting of viral vectors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avidin / chemistry
  • Avidin / genetics
  • Avidin / metabolism*
  • Biotin / chemistry
  • Biotin / metabolism*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Transduction, Genetic / methods


  • Avidin
  • Biotin