Nanoparticle Targeting

Nanoparticles can be designed in a variety of ways to achieve targeted delivery. Some targeting strategies rely upon inherent properties of the particle, in particular, its composition, size, and surface properties. Furthermore, the particle itself can either be the agent being delivered, or it can be prepared to carry a cargo for delivery. Cargo release from the nanoparticles can occur while the nanoparticle is still relatively intact or through its decomposition. A number of methods have been described to integrate and retain cargo components within nanoparticles and these, in general, match to chemical or physical characteristics of the cargo with those of the material used to generate the nanostructure. For example, positively charged cargo can be held within the nano-particle through interactions with an internal network such as a polyanionic polymer that resembles the organization of secretory granules synthesized by cells.40 Alternately, organized complexes akin to coacervates proposed to participate in cell structure evolution can be formed between cargo and particle matrix.40 Therefore, for some cancer-targeting strategies, one should consider not only compatibility of the nanoparticle carrier with its cargo but also degradation events that might affect temporal aspects of particle stability and cargo release.

Some nanoparticles can be designed or delivered in such a way as to produce a default targeting event; other nanoparticles must be decorated on their surface to produce a targeted structure. Topical application of a nanoparticle system at the target site may be all that is required for a successful outcome. Such a simple approach is not typically sufficient for effective targeting of many cancers. Successful targeting may require reduction of inherent targeting tendencies for the material(s) used to prepare the nanoparticle. Depending upon the physical and chemical nature of the nanoparticle and the mode of administration, there can also be complicating factors that affect the effectiveness of the targeting method. Inherent targeting and complicating factors associated with some nanoparticles used for a targeted delivery can impart safety issues that must also be considered. With such characteristics, it is easy to see why active targeting of nanoparticles to cancers can be both complicated by competing biological events as well as facilitated by these same properties.41

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