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J Pharm Sci. 2017 Nov;106(11):3179-3187. doi: 10.1016/j.xphs.2017.06.019. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Parameters Affecting the Enhanced Permeability and Retention Effect: The Need for Patient Selection.

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Reading School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AD, UK.
Reading School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AD, UK. Electronic address:


The enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect constitutes the rationale by which nanotechnologies selectively target drugs to tumors. Despite promising preclinical and clinical results, these technologies have, in our view, underachieved compared to their potential, possibly due to a suboptimal exploitation of the EPR effect. Here, we have systematically analyzed clinical data to identify key parameters affecting the extent of the EPR effect. An analysis of 17 clinical studies showed that the magnitude of the EPR effect was varied and was influenced by tumor type and size. Pancreatic, colon, breast, and stomach cancers showed the highest levels of accumulation of nanomedicines. Tumor size also had an effect on the accumulation of nanomedicines, with large-size tumors having higher accumulation than both medium- and very large-sized tumors. However, medium tumors had the highest percentage of cases (100% of patients) with evidence of the EPR effect. Moreover, tumor perfusion, angiogenesis, inflammation in tumor tissues, and other factors also emerged as additional parameters that might affect the accumulation of nanomedicines into tumors. At the end of the commentary, we propose 2 strategies for identification of suitable patient subpopulations, with respect to the EPR effect, in order to maximize therapeutic outcome.


cancer; nanotechnology; pharmacokinetics; prodrugs; targeted drug delivery

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