New Drug delivery systems

In this decade, the pharmacology field has been intensively exploring different approaches to deliver multiple drugs with a single drug nano-carrier, such as liposomes, polymer nanoparticles, and inorganic nanoparticles. The advantage of nanoparticle based drug delivery is the ability to unify pharmacokinetics by simultaneous delivery of multiple drugs to specific target cells.

Ever since first reported in 2001, mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) have manifested themselves as highly potential candidates for targeted drug delivery. They owe their popularity to their high drug load capacity, chemical stability, biocompatibility and easy functionalization. Since the diameter of the nanoparticles (100 to 200 nm) is tunable, one can obtain a size suitable for passive targeting through the hyperpermeable tumor vasculature, thereby promoting accumulation of the nanoparticles in tumor tissue due to the enhanced permeability and retention effect (EPR). Additionally, functionalization of the nanoparticles with ligands which have a high affinity for tumor cell specific surface receptors promotes more specific internalization in cancer cells. For example, hyaluronic acid (HA) has been extensively used as a targeting ligand due to its affinity for CD44, a transmembrane glycoprotein receptor that plays a critical role in malignant cell activities and, most importantly, it is overexpressed in many solid tumor cells, in metastasis and cancer stem cells.