Proteins: emerging carrier for delivery of cancer therapeutics

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2013 Oct;10(10):1429-48. doi: 10.1517/17425247.2013.805200. Epub 2013 Jun 22.


Introduction: Over the past decades, proteins have emerged as versatile carriers for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more diseases. Proteins have gained considerable attention in formulation of several delivery systems for anticancer drugs due to their nontoxic, non-immunogenic, biocompatible and biodegradable nature. Proteins are good candidates for conjugation with drugs as they provide good pharmacokinetics as well as better cancer tissue accumulation. Protein nanoparticulate systems are also of advancing importance owing to their modifiable functionalities and potential applications in various biological fields. The customizable nature of proteins also makes them outstanding carriers as target-specific delivery systems.

Areas covered: This review emphasizes on protein conjugates (drug-albumin, drug-gelatin, drug-transferrin, and drug-antibody conjugates), protein nanoparticles (prepared using albumin, gelatin, casein, silk proteins, elastin, and lectins), surface modification of protein nanoparticles (using surfactant, polyethylene glycol, cationic/thermosensitive polymers, folic acid, monoclonal antibodies, and peptides/proteins), and their preclinical and clinical status with respect to cancer therapy.

Expert opinion: The major obstacles for commercial success of protein-based delivery are lack of inexpensive as well as quality methods for their preparation and quality control; and if overcome, proteins will stand out as a superior drug-delivery carrier for cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Polymers
  • Proteins