Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with recent advancements resulting in modest impacts on patient survival. Nanomedicine represents an innovative field with immense potential for improving cancer treatment, having ushered in several established drug delivery platforms. Nanoconstructs such as liposomes are widely used in clinics, while polymer micelles are in advanced phases of clinical trials in several countries. Currently, the field of nanomedicine is generating a new wave of nanoscale drug delivery strategies, embracing trends that involve the functionalization of these constructs with moieties that enhance site-specific delivery and tailored release. Herein, we discuss several advancements in established nanoparticle technologies such as liposomes, polymer micelles, and dendrimers regarding tumor targeting and controlled release strategies, which are being incorporated into their design with the hope of generating a more robust and efficacious nanotherapeutic modality. We also highlight a novel strategy known as multistage drug delivery; a rationally designed nanocarrier aimed at overcoming numerous biological barriers involved in drug delivery through the decoupling of various tasks that comprise the journey from the moment of systemic administration to arrival at the tumor site.
© 2011 Japanese Cancer Association.