Synthetic Receptor-Based Targeting Strategies to Improve Tumor Drug Delivery

AAPS PharmSciTech. 2021 Mar 8;22(3):93. doi: 10.1208/s12249-021-01919-w.


Heterogeneity in tumor expression as well as expression in normal tissues of various targets limit the usefulness of current ligand-based active targeting approaches. Incorporation of synthetic receptors, which can be recognized by delivery systems engineered to present specific functional groups on the surface, is a novel approach to improve tumor targeting. Alternatively, introduction of synthetic functionalities on cellular carriers can also enhance tumor targeting. We review various strategies that have been utilized for the introduction of synthetic targets in tumor tissues. The introduction of synthetic functional groups in the tumor through improved strategies is anticipated to result in improved target specificity and reduced heterogeneity in target expression.

Keywords: engineered cells; mesenchymal stem cells; metabolic glycoengineering; synthetic targets; tumor targeting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Receptors, Artificial*
  • Receptors, Drug / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • Receptors, Artificial
  • Receptors, Drug