Nanotechnology essentially restructures molecules to make materials lighter, stronger, more penetrating or absorbant, among many innovative qualities. In cancer research, it offers a unique opportunity to study and interact with normal and cancer cells in real time, at the molecular and cellular scales, and during the various stages of the cancer process. For cancer researchers, a special interest lies in ligand-targeted therapeutic nanoparticles (TNP), which are expected to selectively deliver drugs and especially cytotoxic agents specifically to tumor cells and enhance intracellular drug accumulation. Targeting can be achieved by various mechanisms. For example, nanoparticles with numerous targeting ligands can provide multi-valent binding to the surface of tumor cells with high receptor density (as opposed to low receptor density on normal cells) or nanoparticle agents can enhance permeability and retention (EPR) effect to exit blood vessels in the tumor, to target surface receptors on tumor cells, and to enter tumor cells by endocytosis before releasing their drug payloads.
In this presentation we shall look at nanotechnology in drug development with a focus on anticancers and the advantages of nanoparticles as therapeutic platform technology. Approved nanotech based drugs and their clinical trials will be discussed. Two specific clinical trial case studies will be focused on along at some length with a mention of some ongoing clinical trials of nanotherapeutics. We shall also take a look at the future direction of nanotechnology based therapeutics.