Adequate characterization of NPs (nanoparticles) is of paramount importance to develop well defined nanoformulations of therapeutic relevance. Determination of particle size and surface charge of NPs are indispensable for proper characterization of NPs. DLS (dynamic light scattering) and ZP (zeta potential) measurements have gained popularity as simple, easy and reproducible tools to ascertain particle size and surface charge. Unfortunately, on practical grounds plenty of challenges exist regarding these two techniques including inadequate understanding of the operating principles and dealing with critical issues like sample preparation and interpretation of the data. As both DLS and ZP have emerged from the realms of physical colloid chemistry – it is difficult for researchers engaged in nanomedicine research to master these two techniques. Additionally, there is little literature available in drug delivery research which offers a simple, concise account on these techniques. This review tries to address this issue while providing the fundamental principles of these techniques, summarizing the core mathematical principles and offering practical guidelines on tackling commonly encountered problems while running DLS and ZP measurements. Finally, the review tries to analyze the relevance of these two techniques from translatory perspective.
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Currently available therapies are inadequate and spur demand for improved technologies. Rapid growth in nanotechnology towards the development of nanomedicine products holds great promise to improve therapeutic strategies against cancer. Nanomedicine products represent an opportunity to achieve sophisticated targeting strategies and multi-functionality. They can improve the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of conventional therapeutics and may thus optimize the efficacy of existing anti-cancer compounds. In this review, we discuss state-of-the-art nanoparticles and targeted systems that have been investigated in clinical studies. We emphasize the challenges faced in using nanomedicine products and translating them from a preclinical level to the clinical setting. Additionally, we cover aspects of nanocarrier engineering that may open up new opportunities for nanomedicine products in the clinic.
Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) is one of the most successfully developed biodegradable polymers. Among the different polymers developed to formulate polymeric nanoparticles, PLGA has attracted considerable attention due to its attractive properties: (i) biodegradability and biocompatibility, (ii) FDA and European Medicine Agency approval in drug delivery systems for parenteral administration, (iii) well described formulations and methods of production adapted to various types of drugs hydrophilic or hydrophobic small molecules or macromolecules, (iv) protection of drug from degradation, (v) possibility of sustained release, (vi) possibility to modify surface properties to provide stealthness and/or better interaction with biological materials and (vii) possibility to target nanoparticles to specific organs or cells. This review presents why PLGA has been chosen to design nanoparticles as drug delivery systems in various biomedical applications such as vaccination, cancer, inflammation and other diseases. This review focuses on the understanding of specific characteristics exploited by PLGA-based nanoparticles to target a specific organ or tissue or specific cells.
The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a vital boundary between neural tissue and circulating blood. The BBB's unique and protective features control brain homeostasis as well as ion and molecule movement. Failure in maintaining any of these components results in the breakdown of this specialized multicellular structure and consequently promotes neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. In several high incidence pathologies such as stroke, Alzheimer's (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) the BBB is impaired. However, even a damaged and more permeable BBB can pose serious challenges to drug delivery into the brain. The use of nanoparticle (NP) formulations able to encapsulate molecules with therapeutic value, while targeting specific transport processes in the brain vasculature, may enhance drug transport through the BBB in neurodegenerative/ischemic disorders and target relevant regions in the brain for regenerative processes. In this review, we will discuss BBB composition and characteristics and how these features are altered in pathology, namely in stroke, AD and PD. Additionally, factors influencing an efficient intravenous delivery of polymeric and inorganic NPs into the brain as well as NP-related delivery systems with the most promising functional outcomes will also be discussed.
Doxil®, the first FDA-approved nano-drug (1995), is based on three unrelated principles: (i) prolonged drug circulation time and avoidance of the RES due to the use of PEGylated nano-liposomes; (ii) high and stable remote loading of doxorubicin driven by a transmembrane ammonium sulfate gradient, which also allows for drug release at the tumor; and (iii) having the liposome lipid bilayer in a “liquid ordered” phase composed of the high-T (53 °C) phosphatidylcholine, and cholesterol. Due to the EPR effect, Doxil is “passively targeted” to tumors and its doxorubicin is released and becomes available to tumor cells by as yet unknown means. This review summarizes historical and scientific perspectives of Doxil development and lessons learned from its development and 20 years of its use. It demonstrates the obligatory need for applying an understanding of the cross talk between physicochemical, nano-technological, and biological principles. However, in spite of the large reward, ~ 2 years after Doxil-related patents expired, there is still no FDA-approved generic “Doxil” available. Doxil vial as sold by Sequus Pharmaceuticals (starting 1996)
Targeting tumors with long-circulating nano-scaled carriers is a promising strategy for systemic cancer treatment. Compared with free small therapeutic agents, nanocarriers can selectively accumulate in solid tumors through the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, which is characterized by leaky blood vessels and impaired lymphatic drainage in tumor tissues, and achieve superior therapeutic efficacy, while reducing side effects. In this way, drug-loaded polymeric micelles, self-assemblies of amphiphilic block copolymers consisting of a hydrophobic core as a drug reservoir and a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrophilic shell, have demonstrated outstanding features as tumor-targeted nanocarriers with high translational potential, and several micelle formulations are currently under clinical evaluation. This review summarizes recent efforts in the development of these polymeric micelles and their performance in human studies, as well as our recent progress in polymeric micelles for the delivery of nucleic acids and imaging.
Electrospinning has been recognized as a simple and versatile method for fabrication of polymer nanofibers. Various polymers that include synthetic, natural, and hybrid materials have been successfully electrospun into ultrafine fibers. The inherently high surface to volume ratio of electrospun fibers can enhance cell attachment, drug loading, and mass transfer properties. Drugs ranging from antibiotics and anticancer agents to proteins, DNA, RNA, living cells, and various growth factors have been incorporated into electrospun fibers. This article presents an overview of electrospinning techniques and their application in drug delivery.
Nanomaterials offer interesting physicochemical and biological properties for biomedical applications due to their small size, large surface area and ability to interface/interact with the cells/tissues. Graphene-based nanomaterials are fast emerging as “two-dimensional wonder materials” due to their unique structure and excellent mechanical, optical and electrical properties and have been exploited in electronics and other fields. Emerging trends show that their exceptional properties can be exploited for biomedical applications, especially in drug delivery and tissue engineering. This article presents a comprehensive review of various types and properties of graphene family nanomaterials. We further highlight how these properties are being exploited for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications.
Exosomes are naturally occurring nanosized vesicles that have attracted considerable attention as drug delivery vehicles in the past few years. Exosomes are comprised of natural lipid bilayers with the abundance of adhesive proteins that readily interact with cellular membranes. We posit that exosomes secreted by monocytes and macrophages can provide an unprecedented opportunity to avoid entrapment in mononuclear phagocytes (as a part of the host immune system), and at the same time enhance delivery of incorporated drugs to target cells ultimately increasing drug therapeutic efficacy. In light of this, we developed a new exosomal-based delivery system for a potent antioxidant, catalase, to treat Parkinson's disease (PD). Catalase was loaded into exosomes using different methods: the incubation at room temperature, permeabilization with saponin, freeze–thaw cycles, sonication, or extrusion. The size of the obtained catalase-loaded exosomes (exoCAT) was in the range of 100–200 nm. A reformation of exosomes upon sonication and extrusion, or permeabilization with saponin resulted in high loading efficiency, sustained release, and catalase preservation against proteases degradation. Exosomes were readily taken up by neuronal cells . A considerable amount of exosomes was detected in PD mouse brain following intranasal administration. ExoCAT provided significant neuroprotective effects in and models of PD. Overall, exosome-based catalase formulations have a potential to be a versatile strategy to treat inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders.
Tumor targeting by nanomedicine-based therapeutics has emerged as a promising approach to overcome the lack of specificity of conventional chemotherapeutic agents and to provide clinicians the ability to overcome shortcomings of current cancer treatment. The major underlying mechanism of the design of nanomedicines was the Enhanced Permeability and Retention (EPR) effect, considered as the “royal gate” in the drug delivery field. However, after the publication of thousands of research papers, the verdict has been handed down: the EPR effect works in rodents but not in humans! Thus the basic rationale of the design and development of nanomedicines in cancer therapy is failing making it necessary to stop claiming efficacy gains via the EPR effect, while tumor targeting cannot be proved in the clinic. It is probably time to dethrone the EPR effect and to ask the question: what is the future of nanomedicines without the EPR effect? The aim of this review is to provide a general overview on (i) the current state of the EPR effect, (ii) the future of nanomedicine and (iii) the strategies of modulation of the tumor microenvironment to improve the delivery of nanomedicine.
Many different systems and strategies have been evaluated for drug targeting to tumors over the years. Routinely used systems include liposomes, polymers, micelles, nanoparticles and antibodies, and examples of strategies are passive drug targeting, active drug targeting to cancer cells, active drug targeting to endothelial cells and triggered drug delivery. Significant progress has been made in this area of research both at the preclinical and at the clinical level, and a number of (primarily passively tumor-targeted) nanomedicine formulations have been approved for clinical use. Significant progress has also been made with regard to better understanding the (patho-) physiological principles of drug targeting to tumors. This has led to the identification of several important pitfalls in tumor-targeted drug delivery, including I) overinterpretation of the EPR effect; II) poor tumor and tissue penetration of nanomedicines; III) misunderstanding of the potential usefulness of active drug targeting; IV) irrational formulation design, based on materials which are too complex and not broadly applicable; V) insufficient incorporation of nanomedicine formulations in clinically relevant combination regimens; VI) negligence of the notion that the highest medical need relates to metastasis, and not to solid tumor treatment; VII) insufficient integration of non-invasive imaging techniques and theranostics, which could be used to personalize nanomedicine-based therapeutic interventions; and VIII) lack of (efficacy analyses in) proper animal models, which are physiologically more relevant and more predictive for the clinical situation. These insights strongly suggest that besides making ever more nanomedicine formulations, future efforts should also address some of the conceptual drawbacks of drug targeting to tumors, and that strategies should be developed to overcome these shortcomings.
Nanoparticle drug delivery to the tumor is impacted by multiple factors: nanoparticles must evade clearance by renal filtration and the reticuloendothelial system, extravasate through the enlarged endothelial gaps in tumors, penetrate through dense stroma in the tumor microenvironment to reach the tumor cells, remain in the tumor tissue for a prolonged period of time, and finally release the active agent to induce pharmacological effect. The physicochemical properties of nanoparticles such as size, shape, surface charge, surface chemistry (PEGylation, ligand conjugation) and composition affect the pharmacokinetics, biodistribution, intratumoral penetration and tumor bioavailability. On the other hand, tumor biology (blood flow, perfusion, permeability, interstitial fluid pressure and stroma content) and patient characteristics (age, gender, tumor type, tumor location, body composition and prior treatments) also have impact on drug delivery by nanoparticles. It is now believed that both nanoparticles and the tumor microenvironment have to be optimized or adjusted for optimal delivery. This review provides a comprehensive summary of how these nanoparticle and biological factors impact nanoparticle delivery to tumors, with discussion on how the tumor microenvironment can be adjusted and how patients can be stratified by imaging methods to receive the maximal benefit of nanomedicine. Perspectives and future directions are also provided.
Because of the particular characteristics of the tumor microenvironment and tumor angiogenesis, it is possible to design drug delivery systems that specifically target anti-cancer drugs to tumors. Most of the conventional chemotherapeutic agents have poor pharmacokinetics profiles and are distributed non-specifically in the body leading to systemic toxicity associated with serious side effects. Therefore, the development of drug delivery systems able to target the tumor site is becoming a real challenge that is currently addressed. Nanomedicine can reach tumor passively through the leaky vasculature surrounding the tumors by the Enhanced Permeability and Retention effect whereas ligands grafted at the surface of nanocarriers allow active targeting by binding to the receptors overexpressed by cancer cells or angiogenic endothelial cells. This review is divided into two parts: the first one describes the tumor microenvironment and the second one focuses on the exploitation and the understanding of these characteristics to design new drug delivery systems targeting the tumor. Delivery of conventional chemotherapeutic anti-cancer drugs is mainly discussed.
Collaborative efforts from the fields of biology, materials science, and engineering are leading to exciting progress in the development of nanomedicines. Since the targets of many therapeutic agents are localized in subcellular compartments, modulation of nanoparticle–cell interactions for efficient cellular uptake through the plasma membrane and the development of nanomedicines for precise delivery to subcellular compartments remain formidable challenges. Cellular internalization routes determine the post-internalization fate and intracellular localization of nanoparticles. This review highlights the cellular uptake routes most relevant to the field of non-targeted nanomedicine and presents an account of ligand-targeted nanoparticles for receptor-mediated cellular internalization as a strategy for modulating the cellular uptake of nanoparticles. Ligand-targeted nanoparticles have been the main impetus behind the progress of nanomedicines towards the clinic. This strategy has already resulted in remarkable progress towards effective oral delivery of nanomedicines that can overcome the intestinal epithelial barrier. A detailed overview of the recent developments in subcellular targeting as a novel platform for next-generation organelle-specific nanomedicines is also provided. Each section of the review includes prospects, potential, and concrete expectations from the field of targeted nanomedicines and strategies to meet those expectations.
Over the past decades, significant progress has been made in the field of hydrogels as functional biomaterials. Biomedical application of hydrogels was initially hindered by the toxicity of crosslinking agents and limitations of hydrogel formation under physiological conditions. Emerging knowledge in polymer chemistry and increased understanding of biological processes resulted in the design of versatile materials and minimally invasive therapies. Hydrogel matrices comprise a wide range of natural and synthetic polymers held together by a variety of physical or chemical crosslinks. With their capacity to embed pharmaceutical agents in their hydrophilic crosslinked network, hydrogels form promising materials for controlled drug release and tissue engineering. Despite all their beneficial properties, there are still several challenges to overcome for clinical translation. In this review, we provide a historical overview of the developments in hydrogel research from simple networks to smart materials.
Albumin, a versatile protein carrier for drug delivery, has been shown to be nontoxic, non-immunogenic, biocompatible and biodegradable. Therefore, it is ideal material to fabricate nanoparticles for drug delivery. Albumin nanoparticles have gained considerable attention owing to their high binding capacity of various drugs and being well tolerated without any serious side-effects. The current review embodies an in-depth discussion of albumin nanoparticles with respect to types, formulation aspects, major outcomes of in vitro and in vivo investigations as well as site-specific drug targeting using various ligands modifying the surface of albumin nanoparticles with special insights to the field of oncology. Specialized nanotechnological techniques like desolvation, emulsification, thermal gelation and recently nano-spray drying, nab-technology and self-assembly that have been investigated for fabrication of albumin nanoparticles, are also discussed. Nanocomplexes of albumin with other components in the area of drug delivery are also included in this review.
Multicellular spheroids are three dimensional microscale tissue analogs. The current article examines the suitability of spheroids as an platform for testing drug delivery systems. Spheroids model critical physiologic parameters present , including complex multicellular architecture, barriers to mass transport, and extracellular matrix deposition. Relative to two-dimensional cultures, spheroids also provide better target cells for drug testing and are appropriate models for studies of drug penetration. Key challenges associated with creation of uniformly sized spheroids, spheroids with small number of cells and co-culture spheroids are emphasized in the article. Moreover, the assay techniques required for the characterization of drug delivery and efficacy in spheroids and the challenges associated with such studies are discussed. Examples for the use of spheroids in drug delivery and testing are also emphasized. By addressing these challenges with possible solutions, multicellular spheroids are becoming an increasingly useful tool for drug screening and delivery to pathological tissues and organs. This review focuses on key challenges associated with broader adaptation of spheroids to drug delivery and efficacy testing, to catalyze the enhanced use of multicellular spheroids as a rigorous tool for drug screening and delivery.
30–99% of administered nanoparticles will accumulate and sequester in the liver after administration into the body. This results in reduced delivery to the targeted diseased tissue and potentially leads to increased toxicity at the hepatic cellular level. This review article focuses on the inter- and intra-cellular interaction between nanoparticles and hepatic cells, the elimination mechanism of nanoparticles through the hepatobiliary system, and current strategies to manipulate liver sequestration. The ability to solve the “nanoparticle-liver” interaction is critical to the clinical translation of nanotechnology for diagnosing and treating cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and other diseases.