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Mitochondrial-targeted drug and DNA delivery.

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Northeastern University, Bouve College of Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 360 Huntington Avenue, Mugar 211, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The field of mitochondrial research is currently among the fastest growing disciplines in biomedicine. Approximately 12,000 articles on mitochondria have been published since the beginning of the new millennium. What brings mitochondria into the limelight of the scientific community? Since the end of the 1980s, a series of key discoveries has been made that have rekindled the scientific interest in this long-known cell organelle. It has become increasingly evident that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to a variety of human disorders, ranging from neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, obesity, and diabetes to ischemia-reperfusion injury and cancer. Moreover, since the middle of the 1990s, mitochondria, the "power houses" of the cell, have also become accepted as the cells' "arsenal," reflecting their increasingly acknowledged key role during apoptosis. Based on these recent developments in mitochondrial research, increased pharmacological and pharmaceutical efforts have lead to the emergence of mitochondrial medicine" as a new field of biomedical research. Targeting of biologically active molecules to mitochondria in living cells will open avenues for manipulating mitochondrial functions, which may result in the selective protection, repair, or eradication of cells. This review gives a comprehensive overview of current strategies of mitochondrial targeting and their possible therapeutic applications.

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