Mind the gap: a survey of how cancer drug carriers are susceptible to the gap between research and practice

J Control Release. 2013 Dec 28;172(3):1045-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2013.09.026. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


With countless research papers using preclinical models and showing the superiority of nanoparticle design over current drug therapies used to treat cancers, it is surprising how deficient the translation of these nano-sized drug carriers into the clinical setting is. This review article seeks to compare the preclinical and clinical results for Doxil®, PK1, Abraxane®, Genexol-PM®, Xyotax™, NC-6004, Mylotarg®, PK2, and CALAA-01. While not comprehensive, it covers nano-sized drug carriers designed to improve the efficacy of common drugs used in chemotherapy. While not always available or comparable, effort was made to compare the pharmacokinetics, toxicity, and efficacy between the animal and human studies. Discussion is provided to suggest what might be causing the gap. Finally, suggestions and encouragement are dispensed for the potential that nano-sized drug carriers hold.

Keywords: Cancer therapy; Clinical translation; Drug carrier; Drug delivery; Nanomedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Carriers / metabolism
  • Drug Carriers / toxicity
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / toxicity
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Carriers