Sustained drug release from smart nanoparticles in cancer therapy: a comprehensive review

Xue Bai, Zara L. Zara L Smith, Yuheng Wang, Sam Butterworth, Annalisa Tirella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although nanomedicine has been highly investigated for cancer treatment over the past decades, only a few nanomedicines are currently approved and in the market; making this field poorly represented in clinical applications. Key research gaps that require optimization to successfully translate the use of nanomedicines have been identified, but not addressed; between these, the lack of control of the release pattern of therapeutics is the most important. To solve these issues with currently used nanomedicines (e.g. burst release, systemic release), different strategies for the design and manufacturing of nanomedicines allowing for a better control over the therapeutic release, are currently being investigated. The inclusion of stimuli-responsive properties and prolonged drug release have been identified as effective approaches to include in nanomedicine, and are discussed in this paper. Recently, smart sustained release nanoparticles have been successfully designed to safely and efficiently deliver therapeutics with different kinetic profiles, making them promising for many drug delivery applications and in specific for cancer treatment. In this review, the state-of-the-art of smart sustained release nanoparticles is discussed, focusing on the design strategies and performances of polymeric nanotechnologies. A complete list of nanomedicines currently tested in clinical trials and approved nanomedicines for cancer treatment is presented, critically discussing advantages and limitations with respect to the newly developed nanotechnologies and manufacturing methods. By the presented discussion and the highlight of nanomedicine design criteria and current limitations, this review paper could be of high interest to identify key features for the design of release-controlled nanomedicine for cancer treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Sept 2022


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