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Methods Mol Biol. 2010;596:467-88. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-416-6_21.

Circumventing tumor resistance to chemotherapy by nanotechnology.

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Key Laboratory of Biomedical Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, National Center for Nanosciences and Technology of China, Beijing, China,


Patient relapse and metastasis of malignant cells is very common after standard cancer treatment with surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, a cornerstone in the development of present day cancer therapy, is one of the most effective and potent strategies to treat malignant tumors. However, the resistance of cancer cells to the drugs remains a significant impediment to successful chemotherapy. An additional obstacle is the inability of chemotherapeutic drugs to selectively target tumor cells. Almost all the anticancer agents have severe side effects on normal tissues and organs. The toxicity of currently available anticancer drugs and the inefficiency of chemotherapeutic treatments, especially for advanced stages of the disease, have limited the optimization of clinical drug combinations and effective chemotherapeutic protocols. Nanomedicine allows the release of drugs by biodegradation and self-regulation of nanomaterials in vitro and in vivo. Nanotechnologies are characterized by effective drug encapsulation, controllable self-assembly, specificity and biocompatibility as a result of their own material properties. Nanotechnology has the potential to overcome current chemotherapeutic barriers in cancer treatment, because of the unique nanoscale size and distinctive bioeffects of nanomaterials. Nanotechnology may help to solve the problems associated with traditional chemotherapy and multidrug resistance.

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