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Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2013 Jun 15;65(6):880-90. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2012.11.005. Epub 2012 Dec 7.

Pharmaceutical nanotechnology for oral delivery of anticancer drugs.

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Division of Life and Health Sciences, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen 518055, China.


Oral chemotherapy is an important topic in the 21st century medicine, which may radically change the current regimen of chemotherapy and greatly improve the quality of life of the patients. Unfortunately, most anticancer drugs, especially those of high therapeutic efficacy such as paclitaxel and docetaxel, are not orally bioavailable due to the gastrointestinal (GI) drug barrier. The molecular basis of the GI barrier has been found mainly due to the multidrug efflux proteins, i.e. P-type glycoproteins (P-gp), which are rich in the epithelial cell membranes in the GI tract. Medical solution for oral chemotherapy is to apply P-gp inhibitors such as cyclosporine A, which, however, suppress the body's immune system either, thus causing medical complication. Pharmaceutical nanotechnology, which is to apply and further develop nanotechnology to solve the problems in drug delivery, may provide a better solution and thus change the way we make drug and the way we take drug. This review is focused on the problems encountered in oral chemotherapy and the pharmaceutical nanotechnology solutions such as prodrugs, nanoemulsions, dendrimers, micelles, liposomes, solid lipid nanoparticles and nanoparticles of biodegradable polymers. Proof-of-concept in vitro and in vivo results for oral delivery of anticancer drugs by the various nanocarriers, which can be found so far from the literature, are provided.

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