Two-step polymer- and liposome-enzyme prodrug therapies for cancer: PDEPT and PELT concepts and future perspectives

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2017 Sep 1;118:52-64. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.09.011. Epub 2017 Sep 12.


Polymer-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (PDEPT) and polymer enzyme liposome therapy (PELT) are two-step therapies developed to provide anticancer drugs site-selective intratumoral accumulation and release. Nanomedicines, such as polymer-drug conjugates and liposomal drugs, accumulate in the tumor site due to extravasation-dependent mechanism (enhanced permeability and retention - EPR - effect), and further need to cross the cellular membrane and release their payload in the intracellular compartment. The subsequent administration of a polymer-enzyme conjugate able to accumulate in the tumor tissue and to trigger the extracellular release of the active drug showed promising preclinical results. The development of polymer-enzyme, polymer-drug conjugates and liposomal drugs had undergone a vast advancement over the past decades. Several examples of enzyme mimics for in vivo therapy can be found in the literature. Moreover, polymer therapeutics often present an enzyme-sensitive mechanism of drug release. These nanomedicines can thus be optimal substrates for PDEPT and this review aims to provide new insights and stimuli toward the future perspectives of this promising combination.

Keywords: Cancer therapy; Enzyme-sensitive liposomes; Enzyme-sensitive polymers; Nanomedicine; PDEPT; PELT; PUMPT; Polymer-enzyme conjugates; Two-step therapy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enzyme Therapy / methods
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Nanomedicine / methods
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Prodrugs / therapeutic use*


  • Liposomes
  • Polymers
  • Prodrugs