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J Cell Biol. 2010 Mar 22;188(6):759-68. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200910104. Epub 2010 Mar 15.

Targeting of drugs and nanoparticles to tumors.

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Vascular Mapping Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


The various types of cells that comprise the tumor mass all carry molecular markers that are not expressed or are expressed at much lower levels in normal cells. These differentially expressed molecules can be used as docking sites to concentrate drug conjugates and nanoparticles at tumors. Specific markers in tumor vessels are particularly well suited for targeting because molecules at the surface of blood vessels are readily accessible to circulating compounds. The increased concentration of a drug in the site of disease made possible by targeted delivery can be used to increase efficacy, reduce side effects, or achieve some of both. We review the recent advances in this delivery approach with a focus on the use of molecular markers of tumor vasculature as the primary target and nanoparticles as the delivery vehicle.

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