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Curr Med Chem. 2019;26(8):1377-1388. doi: 10.2174/0929867324666170920163156.

Cysteine-rich Proteins for Drug Delivery and Diagnosis.

Yang G1,2, Lu Y3,4, Bomba HN3, Gu Z3,4,5.

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Key Laboratory of Science & Technology of Eco-Textile, Donghua University, Ministry of Education, Shanghai 201620, China.
College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Donghua University, North Ren Min Road No. 2999, Shanghai 201620, China.
Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, United States.
Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, United States.
Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, United States.


An emerging focus in nanomedicine is the exploration of multifunctional nanocomposite materials that integrate stimuli-responsive, therapeutic, and/or diagnostic functions. In this effort, cysteine-rich proteins have drawn considerable attention as a versatile platform due to their good biodegradability, biocompatibility, and ease of chemical modification. This review surveys cysteine-rich protein-based biomedical materials, including protein-metal nanohybrids, gold nanoparticle-protein agglomerates, protein-based nanoparticles, and hydrogels, with an emphasis on their preparation methods, especially those based on the cysteine residue-related reactions. Their applications in tumor-targeted drug delivery and diagnostics are highlighted.


Cysteine-rich protein; biomedical material; cancer diagnostics; drug delivery; hydrogel; protein-based nanoparticle.

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