Intelligent nanomaterials for medicine: carrier platforms and targeting strategies in the context of clinical application

Nanomedicine. 2013 Aug;9(6):742-57. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2013.01.012. Epub 2013 Feb 19.


Nanomedical approaches are a major transforming factor in medical diagnosis and therapies. Based on important earlier work in the field of liposomal drug delivery and metallic nanomaterials, the last decade has brought a broad array of new and improved intelligent nanoscale platforms which are not only suited to deliver drugs and imaging agents but also to carry advanced functionality including internal and external stimuli-responsiveness in a highly targeted fashion to a diseased area. This review focuses on required properties and differences of basic delivery platforms in regard to deliver smart functionality, on building blocks suited to enhance tissue-, cell- and receptor-specific targeting and on nano-bio interaction. Further it discusses advantages and disadvantages of those platforms for future clinical application with regard to the subject of complement activation and hypersensitivity reactions in particular against polyethylene glycol (PEG) and possible functionalization with nanosize switches.

From the clinical editor: This review focuses on the properties of platforms designed to deliver smart functionality, using appropriate building blocks to enhance tissue-, cell-, and receptor-specific targeting. The authors also discuss potential complications such as complement activation and hypersensitivity reactions, and possible functionalization with nanosize switches.

Keywords: Active targeting; Nanoplatforms; Passive targeting; Stimuli-responsive nanocarriers; Targeted delivery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / chemistry
  • Liposomes / therapeutic use
  • Nanomedicine*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Nanostructures / therapeutic use*


  • Drug Carriers
  • Liposomes