An insight into the current state of Nanomedicines for the targeting and treatment of cancer
Cancer is a global disease with high morbidity and mortality. In 2018, it was believed that 18 million people were newly diagnosed with cancer and approximately 10 million patients died due to the disease in the same period. Nanotechnology is based on the exploitation of matter at the nanoscale by the integration of the nanostructures into larger systems for real-world applications. Current challenges with traditional cancer treatment strategies include, but are not limited to, lack of specific targeting, overt systemic toxicity and low efficacy.
Over the last two decades nanotechnology has gained prominence in modern biology with the field of nanomedicine becoming one of the most important. Nanomedicine allows for drugs or delivery devices to be manipulated at the nanoscale, for improved delivery to desired destinations within the body, while at the same time, retaining the valuable pharmacological properties of the drug. The design and utilisation of nanomedicines offers great potential for treating various diseases including cancers. The use of nanomaterials show particular promise as candidates for cancer treatment due to their high surface to volume ratio and tuneable size, shape and surface chemistry, which in combination, allow for improved tumour targeting and enhanced therapeutic efficacy.
In a recent comprehensive review complied by Dr Ali Kermanizadeh at Bangor University in collaboration with Cardiff University, Heriot Watt University, University of Copenhagen, The Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment and Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, attempted to address the reasons why despite the great promise showing in pre-clinical studies, the number of nanomedicines reaching clinical testing is low. The review scrutinised over 4000 publications and used a weight of evidence approach to the different strategies for use of medicines in combating cancer, and highlighted a number of areas that the field of nanomedicines research that were clearly not optimal. The group concluded that despite the plethora of advantages that nanomedicine offers, the systems still have limitations, one of which is potential to adversely affect human health, which needs to be thoroughly addressed and is still regarded as an afterthought in the majority of studies. Furthermore, to allow for real and meaningful progress in the field of nanomedicine there is an urgent need to replace and refine traditional testing preclinical research animal models. Additionally, other considerations such as patenting the formulations before publication and establishing collaborations with industrial partners with the required expertise and resources are key.
Publication date: 24 November 2020