Recent developments in anticancer drug delivery using cell penetrating and tumor targeting peptides

J Control Release. 2017 Mar 28:250:62-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2017.02.006. Epub 2017 Feb 4.


Efficient intracellular trafficking and targeted delivery to the site of action are essential to overcome the current drawbacks of cancer therapeutics. Cell Penetrating Peptides (CPPs) offer the possibility of efficient intracellular trafficking, and, therefore the development of drug delivery systems using CPPs as cargo carriers is an attractive strategy to address the current drawbacks of cancer therapeutics. Additionally, the possibility of incorporating Tumor Targeting Peptides (TTPs) into the delivery system provides the necessary drug targeting effect. Therefore the conjugation of CPPs and/or TTPs with therapeutics provides a potentially efficient method of improving intracellular drug delivery mechanisms. Peptides used as cargo carriers in DDS have been shown to enhance the cellular uptake of drugs and thereby provide an efficient therapeutic benefit over the drug on its own. After providing a brief overview of various drug targeting approaches, this review focusses on peptides as carriers and targeting moieties in drug-peptide covalent conjugates and summarizes the most recent literature examples where CPPs on their own or CPPs together with TTPs have been conjugated to anticancer drugs such as Doxorubicin, Methotrexate, Paclitaxel, Chlorambucil etc. A short section on CPPs used in multicomponent drug delivery systems is also included.

Keywords: Anticancer drug; Cell penetrating peptide; Cytotoxicity; Drug delivery; Integrin; Tumor targeting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides / chemistry
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Drug Liberation
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Peptides / chemistry*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides
  • Drug Carriers
  • Peptides