Development of Bone Targeting Drugs

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jun 23;18(7):1345. doi: 10.3390/ijms18071345.


The skeletal system, comprising bones, ligaments, cartilage and their connective tissues, is critical for the structure and support of the body. Diseases that affect the skeletal system can be difficult to treat, mainly because of the avascular cartilage region. Targeting drugs to the site of action can not only increase efficacy but also reduce toxicity. Bone-targeting drugs are designed with either of two general targeting moieties, aimed at the entire skeletal system or a specific cell type. Most bone-targeting drugs utilize an affinity to hydroxyapatite, a major component of the bone matrix that includes a high concentration of positively-charged Ca2+. The strategies for designing such targeting moieties can involve synthetic and/or biological components including negatively-charged amino acid peptides or bisphosphonates. Efficient delivery of bone-specific drugs provides significant impact in the treatment of skeletal related disorders including infectious diseases (osteoarthritis, osteomyelitis, etc.), osteoporosis, and metabolic skeletal dysplasia. Despite recent advances, however, both delivering the drug to its target without losing activity and avoiding adverse local effects remain a challenge. In this review, we investigate the current development of bone-targeting moieties, their efficacy and limitations, and discuss future directions for the development of these specific targeted treatments.

Keywords: bisphosphonates; bone targeting drugs; metabolic skeletal dysplasia; nanoparticles; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Bone Diseases / metabolism
  • Bone Diseases / pathology
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Durapatite / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / pathology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteoblasts / pathology
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / pathology


  • Durapatite