Actively targeted nanocarriers for drug delivery to cancer cells

Stefania Biffi, Rebecca Voltan, Barbara Bortot, Giorgio Zauli, Paola Secchiero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Progressive breakthroughs in nanomedicine have been instrumental for the clinical translation of actively targeted drug-delivery approaches. Besides storing large payloads of drugs within the nanoparticle core, the conjugation of targeting moieties confers specific targeting ability to the nanoplatforms. In this respect, clinical results suggest that actively targeted nanocarriers can exhibit an overall improved antitumor efficacy, minimizing off-target toxicity. Areas covered: This review article summarizes the advances in active targeting of nanocarriers to cancer cells. Specifically, we discuss the various types of nanocarriers, describe the receptors that are frequently overexpressed in solid tumors, and discuss how this approach can be used to improve clinical outcomes. We particularly focus on ongoing clinical trials of actively targeted nanoparticles that are yet to be clinically approved. Expert opinion: Further investment in active targeting will likely pose clinical benefits. We envisage a future requiring the use of longitudinal measures in the clinical setting to profile the patients that are likely to benefit from actively targeted nanocarriers. At the preclinical stage, a complete picture of intratumoral barriers combined with a quantitative approach of the intratumoral fate of nanomaterials will be instrumental in defining more effective strategies to improve their clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-496
Number of pages16
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2019


  • cancer cells
  • drug delivery
  • Nanoparticles
  • receptors
  • targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Actively targeted nanocarriers for drug delivery to cancer cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this