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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2013 Nov 1;5(11):a016980. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a016980.

Exploiting endocytosis for nanomedicines.

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  • 1Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142.


In this article, we briefly review the endocytic pathways used by cells, pointing out their defining characteristics and highlighting physical limitations that may direct the internalization of nanoparticles to a subset of these pathways. A more detailed description of these pathways is presented in the literature. We then focus on the endocytosis of nanomedicines and present how various nanomaterial parameters impact these endocytic processes. This topic is an area of active research, motivated by the recognition that an improved understanding of how nanomaterials interact at the molecular, cellular, and whole-organism level will lead to the design of better nanomedicines in the future. Next, we briefly review some of the important nanomedicines already on the market or in clinical development that serve to exemplify how endocytosis can be exploited for medical benefit. Finally, we present some key unanswered questions and remaining challenges to be addressed by the field.

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