Introduction: Bisphosphonates (BPs) were introduced 45 years ago as anti-osteoporotic drugs and during the last decade have been utilized as bone-targeting groups in systemic treatment of bone diseases. Very recently, strategies of chemical immobilization of BPs in hydrogels and nanocomposites for bone tissue engineering emerged. These strategies opened new applications of BPs in bone tissue engineering.
Areas covered: Conjugates of BPs to different drug molecules, imaging agents, proteins and polymers are discussed in terms of specific targeting to bone and therapeutic affect induced by the resulting prodrugs in comparison with the parent drugs. Conversion of these conjugates into hydrogel scaffolds is also presented along with the application of the resulting materials for bone tissue engineering.
Expert opinion: Calcium-binding properties of BPs can be successfully extended via different conjugation strategies not only for purposes of bone targeting, but also in supramolecular assembly affording either new nanocarriers or bulk nanocomposite scaffolds. Interaction between carrier-linked BPs and drug molecules should also be considered for the control of release of these molecules and their optimized delivery. Bone-targeting properties of BP-functionalized nanomaterials should correspond to bone adhesive properties of their bulk analogs.
Keywords: bisphosphonates; bone cancer; bone regeneration; growth factor delivery; hydrogels; nanoparticles; osteoporosis.