Mechanism of Targeting Tumor Cells Using Nanoparticles

Published on 11 Dec, 2015

Tumor Treatment - Technology Research

With an ability to enter tissues at the molecular level, nanoparticles have promising applications in diagnostic and therapeutic systems for cancer. Over the past several decades, the development and application of engineered nanoparticles to more effectively treat cancer have witnessed significant advancements.

Nanoparticles provide a new platform for cancer diagnostics and therapy, serving as a carrier for entry through fenestrations in tumour vasculature, allowing direct cell access.

Modified nanoparticles allow binding to cancer cell membranes, microenvironment, cytoplasmic or nuclear receptor sites. This initiates the delivery of high drug concentrations to the targeted cancer cell with reduced toxicity of normal tissues.

Over the past several decades, the development and application of engineered nanoparticles to more effectively treat cancer have witnessed significant advancements.

Nanoparticles target tumour cells in two ways: active and passive.

  • Passive Targeting: This term refers to the accumulation of the drug in areas around the tumour with leaky vasculature; it also known as the enhanced permeation and retention (EPR) effect.
  • Nanoparticles target tumour cells
    Nanoparticles target tumour cells
  • Active Targeting: This term refers to specific interactions between the drug/drug carrier and target cells, usually through specific ligand receptor interactions or antibody-antigen recognition, for intracellular localisation of the drug.

The EPR effect — a unique characteristic of tumour cells — enables targeted delivery of anticancer agents. Passive targeting is based primarily on size; the nanoparticle surface may be modified with several ligands that would interact with specific receptors over-expressed on the surface of the tumour cells, thus imparting specificity for active targeting.

For more information about the use of Nanoparticles and their applications in cancer treatment, check out our report on Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Systems for Cancer Treatment.


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