Active targeting with particulate drug carriers in tumor therapy: Fundamentals and recent progress

Fabrizio Marcucci, François Lefoulon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drug therapy for the treatment of tumors is often limited by a narrow therapeutic index. One approach that overcomes this limitation is the active targeting of tumors with particulate drug carriers. The derivatization of particulate drug carriers with a ligand leads to the selective targeting of the particulate to selected cells, thereby focusing drug delivery. In addition, particulate drug carriers have a high loading capacity, do not need covalent conjugation of the drug and the formulation protects the entrapped drug from enzymatic inactivation. Despite these favorable properties, their therapeutic efficacy in animal models has been reported only in recent years. The use of internalizing ligands and the targeting of intravascular tumor cells and endothelial cells of tumor blood vessels have been instrumental in demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of particulate drug carriers in animal models. As a result, several actively targeted particulate carriers have now entered, or are about to enter, clinical investigation. Recent findings, for example, the identification of cell-penetrating peptides with restricted cell selectivity, suggest that further improvements in this approach are likely in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-228
Number of pages10
JournalDrug Discovery Today
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2004


  • Active targeting
  • Cancer biology
  • Drug delivery
  • Drug Discovery
  • Immunogenicity
  • In vivo
  • Internalization
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Multivalency
  • Particles
  • Passive targeting
  • Tumor therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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