Nanotechnology as a Delivery Tool for Precision Cancer Therapies

AAPS J. 2017 Nov;19(6):1632-1642. doi: 10.1208/s12248-017-0152-y. Epub 2017 Oct 10.


Genomic analyses from patients with cancer have improved the understanding of the genetic elements that drive the disease, provided new targets for treating this relentless disease, and offered criteria for stratifying patient populations that will benefit most from treatments. In the last decade, several new targeted therapies have been approved by the FDA based on these omics findings, leading to significantly improved survival and quality of life for select patient populations. However, many of these precision medicines, e.g., nucleic acid-based therapies and antibodies, suffer from poor plasma stability, suboptimal pharmacokinetic properties, and immunological toxicities that prohibit their clinical translation. Nanotechnology is being explored as a delivery platform that can enable the successful delivery of these precision medicine treatments without these limitations. These precision nanomedicines are able to protect the cargo from degradation or premature/burst release prior to accumulation at the tumor site and improve the selectivity to cancer cells by incorporating ligands that can target receptors overexpressed on the cancer cell surface. Here, we review the development of several precision nanomedicines based on genomic analysis of clinical samples, actively targeted nanoparticle delivery systems in the clinic, and the pathophysiological barriers of the tumor microenvironment. Successful translation of these precision nanomedicine initiatives will require an effective collaboration between basic and clinical investigators to match the right patient with the right therapies and to deliver them at therapeutic concentrations which will improve overall treatment responses.

Keywords: cancer therapeutics; genomics; nanomedicine; oncology; precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • Nanomedicine*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Tumor Microenvironment