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Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2012 Oct;9(10):1245-61. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Lipid nanoparticles for cancer therapy: state of the art and future prospects.

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University of Navarra, School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology, Irunlarrea 1, Pamplona, 31080, Spain.



Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and it is estimated that deaths from this disease will rise to over 11 million in 2030. Most cases of cancer can be cured with surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy if they are detected at an early stage. However, current cancer therapies are commonly associated with undesirable side effects, as most chemotherapy treatments are cytotoxic and present poor tumor targeting.


Lipid nanoparticles (LN) are one of the most promising options in this field. LN are made up of biodegradable generally recognized as safe (GRAS) lipids, their formulation includes different techniques, and most are easily scalable to industrial manufacture. LN overcome the limitations imposed by the need for intravenous administration, as they are mainly absorbed via the lymphatic system when they are administered orally, which improves drug bioavailability. Furthermore, depending on their composition, LN present the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, thus opening up the possibility of targeting brain tumors.


The drawbacks of chemotherapeutic agents make it necessary to invest in research to find safer and more effective therapies. Nanotechnology has opened the door to new therapeutic options through the design of formulations that include a wide range of materials and formulations at the nanometer range, which improve drug efficacy through direct or indirect tumor targeting, increased bioavailability and diminished toxicity.

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