Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington, USA 99202.
* Equally contributed to this work.
Nanotechnology has become a powerful tool to potentially translate nanomedicine from bench to bedside. Nanotherapeutics are nanoparticles (NPs) loaded with drugs and possess the property of tissue targeting after surfaces of NPs are bio-functionalized. Designing smaller size of nanotherapeutics is presumed to increase tumor targeting based on the EPR (enhanced permeability and retention) effect. Since the immune systems possess a defence mechanism to fight diseases, there is an emerging concept that NPs selectively target immune cells to mediate the active delivery of drugs into sites of disease. In this review, we will focus on a key question of how nanotherapeutics specifically target immune cells and hijack them as a delivery vehicle to transport nanotherapeutics into disease tissues, thus possibly improving current therapies in inflammation, immune disorders and cancers. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities for this new strategy of leukocyte-mediated delivery of nanotherapeutics.
Keywords: Nanoparticles, Circulating leukocytes, Inflammation, Cancer, Leukocyte infiltration.