Some researchers believe nanomedicine will revolutionize healthcare and medicine through transformative new therapeutic tools. Nanocarriers, utilized to transport actives to the target site, are constructed from a wide range of materials. Nanocarriers can be grouped into self-assembling (liposomes, micelles), processed (nanoparticles, emulsions), and chemically bound (dendrimers, silica-based carriers, carbon nanotubes) structures. A review of nanomedicines on the market and in clinical translation reveals that the vast majority is based on liposomes, polymeric micelles, and nanoparticles. The increasing presence of these novel nanomedicines raises the question what nanomedicines in the clinic right now really form nanoparticles, i.e., are improvements we see from nanomedicines structure-related or do they result from improved formulations? Do we even have sufficient data to address this question? The formation of nanocarriers is usually confirmed in vitro but little if any in vivo (let alone clinical) information is available. Given the large number of nanomedicines on the market and under clinical evaluation one clearly cannot expect to find a 'one size fits all' answer. Therefore, two case studies are discussed: the paclitaxel formulation Taxol® and its nanomedicine companions LEP-ETU (liposome), Genexol®-PM and NK105 (micelles), and Abraxane® (nanoparticle). Published pharmacokinetic data is utilized to find differences indicating nanocarrier delivery. The second case study involves structurally related camptothecin-polymer conjugates CRLX101 (nanoparticles) and XMT-1001 (prodrug). Structural differences are evaluated to discuss the different aggregation behavior. This opinion can only serve as first attempt to find a more general answer; clearly more data is needed from future studies.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.