Current major cancer targets for nanoparticle systems

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2011 Feb;11(2):164-83. doi: 10.2174/156800911794328484.


This review presents some common features of nanoparticles - activity, toxicity and biological activity. Humans are exposed to tiny particles via dust storms, volcanic ash, and other natural processes and the body systems are well adapted to protect from these potentially harmful intruders. Technological advancement has also changed the character of particulate pollution, increasing the proportion of nanometer-sized particles - "nanoparticles" and expanding the variety of chemical compositions. Studies have shown a strong correlation between particulate air pollution levels, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, various cancers, and mortality. Adverse effects of nanoparticles on human health depend on individual factors such as genetics and existing disease, as well as exposure, and nanoparticle chemistry, size, shape, agglomeration state, and electromagnetic properties. The key to understand the toxicity of nanoparticles is their size, smaller than cells and cellular organelles, which allows them to penetrate these basic biological structures, disrupting their normal function. Examples of toxic effects include tissue inflammation, and altered cellular redox balance toward oxidation, causing abnormal function or cell death. Some of these materials have desirable characteristics for industrial applications, as nanostructured materials often exhibit beneficial properties, from UV absorbance in sunscreen to oil-less lubrication of motors. In the sense of the huge surrounding positive and negative influence of known and unknown NP-impacts it seems very important to understand and forecast the processes in the body, due to the interaction between these two sides - organism. How nanoparticles can be used as drug delivery systems and imaging devices to increase the efficacy per dose of therapeutic or imaging contrast agents; how nanoparticles will be further developed to improve their functionality in cancer treatment and imaging? How reacts the immune system of the organism after introducing nanoparticles with the aim to defeat tumors? Here the aim was to discuss the right and wrong applications of NP and to answer to some of these questions. In the mean time there will appear much more investigations because of the important application of the NP not only as drug delivery systems, but as diagnostics as well.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / trends*
  • Humans
  • Nanomedicine / trends*
  • Nanoparticles* / adverse effects
  • Nanoparticles* / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents