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Nanotechnology in targeting cancer stem cells

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Nanotechnologies of drug delivery system could selectively accumulate in the required organ or tissue and at the same time, penetrate target cells to deliver the bioactive agent. It has been suggested that, organ or tissue accumulation could be achieved by the passive or antibody-mediated active targeting, ...

Nanotechnologies of drug delivery system could selectively accumulate in the required organ or tissue and at the same time, penetrate target cells to deliver the bioactive agent. It has been suggested that, organ or tissue accumulation could be achieved by the passive or antibody-mediated active targeting, while the intracellular delivery could be mediated by certain ligands or by cell-penetrating peptides.

Recently, increasing attention is focused on the impact of cancer stem cells (CSCs) on tumor initiation, progression and metastasis. CSCs are cancer cells that possess characteristics associated with normal stem cells, specifically the ability to give rise to all cell types found in a particular cancer sample. CSCs may generate tumors through the stem cell processes of self-renewal and differentiation into multiple cell types. These cells are hypothesized to persist in tumors as a distinct population and cause relapse and metastasis by giving rise to new tumors. Therefore, development of specific therapies targeted at CSCs holds hope for improvement of survival and quality of life of cancer patients, especially for patients with metastatic disease.

Simultaneously, many new cellular targets in CSCs such as new receptors or pathways have been revealed. Identification of these targets may lead to development of new treatment strategies for cancer. To take full advantages of these developments, targeting nanotechnologies such as drug and gene targeting nanotechnologies to the CSCs have been developed. These nanotechnologies can targetedly deliver therapeutic molecules or/and gene to eliminate or suppress the CSCs.

This research topic will highlight the novel targets in the CSCs, which possess potential therapeutic implications. More important, a current development of the new nanotechnologies in drug delivery can make a huge impact on the modulation of CSCs by utilizing the knowledge of CSCs biology.


Keywords: nanotechnology, drug delivery, cancer stem cells, cancer biology, CSCs, gene targeting


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