Particle tracking in drug and gene delivery research: State-of-the-art applications and methods

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2015 Aug 30;91:70-91. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2015.03.017. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


Particle tracking is a powerful microscopy technique to quantify the motion of individual particles at high spatial and temporal resolution in complex fluids and biological specimens. Particle tracking's applications and impact in drug and gene delivery research have greatly increased during the last decade. Thanks to advances in hardware and software, this technique is now more accessible than ever, and can be reliably automated to enable rapid processing of large data sets, thereby further enhancing the role that particle tracking will play in drug and gene delivery studies in the future. We begin this review by discussing particle tracking-based advances in characterizing extracellular and cellular barriers to therapeutic nanoparticles and in characterizing nanoparticle size and stability. To facilitate wider adoption of the technique, we then present a user-friendly review of state-of-the-art automated particle tracking algorithms and methods of analysis. We conclude by reviewing technological developments for next-generation particle tracking methods, and we survey future research directions in drug and gene delivery where particle tracking may be useful.

Keywords: Automated particle tracking; Biological barrier; Diffusion; Image analysis; Microscopy; Mucus; Nanomedicine; Nanoparticle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Nanomedicine / methods
  • Nanoparticles