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Nanomedicine. 2007 Jun;3(2):103-10. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

Nanotechnology platforms and physiological challenges for cancer therapeutics.

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  • 1Science and Technology Policy Program, School of Public Policy and Public Administration, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA. kimke@mail.nih.gov <kimke@mail.nih.gov>

Abstract

Nanotechnology is considered to be an emerging, disruptive technology that will have significant impact in all industrial sectors and across-the-board applications in cancer research. There has been tremendous investment in this area and an explosion of research and development efforts in recent years, particularly in the area of cancer research. At the National Institutes of Health, nanomedicine is one of the priority areas under its Roadmap Initiatives. Moreover, in 2005 the National Cancer Institute alone committed $144.3 million over 5 years for its Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer program. Much research and development is progressing in the areas of cancer diagnostics, devices, biosensors, and microfluidics, but this review will focus on therapeutics. Current nanotechnology platforms for cancer therapeutics encompass a vast array of nanomaterials and nanodevices. This review will focus on six of the most prominent and most widely studied: nanoshells, carbon nanotubes, dendrimers, quantum dots, superparamagnetic nanoparticles, and liposomes. All of these nanotechnology platforms can be multifunctional, so they are frequently touted as "smart" or "intelligent." This review will discuss the shared approaches in the design and development of these nanotechnology platforms that bestow such characteristics to the nanoparticles. Finally, the review will raise awareness of the physiological challenges for the application of these therapeutic nanotechnologies, in light of some recent advances in our understanding of tumor biology.

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