Theranostics 2020; 10(3):956-967. doi:10.7150/thno.38288 This issue


Imaging-assisted anticancer nanotherapy

Anshuman Dasgupta1*, Ilaria Biancacci1*, Fabian Kiessling1, Twan Lammers1,2,3✉

1. Department of Nanomedicine and Theranostics, Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging, RWTH Aachen University Clinic, Aachen, Germany.
2. Department of Pharmaceutics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
3. Department of Targeted Therapeutics, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands.
* Both authors contributed equally

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Dasgupta A, Biancacci I, Kiessling F, Lammers T. Imaging-assisted anticancer nanotherapy. Theranostics 2020; 10(3):956-967. doi:10.7150/thno.38288. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Cancer nanomedicines are submicrometer-sized formulations designed to improve the biodistribution of anticancer drugs, resulting in less off-target localization, altered toxicity profiles, improved target site accumulation and enhanced efficacy. Together, these beneficial features have resulted in the regulatory approval of about a dozen nanomedicines for the treatment of solid and hematological malignancies. In recent years, significant progress has been made in combining nanomedicines with imaging, to better understand key aspects of the tumor-targeted drug delivery process, and to address the high inter- and intra-individual heterogeneity in the Enhanced Permeability and Retention (EPR) effect. Strategies explored in this regard have included the use of traditional imaging techniques, companion diagnostics and nanotheranostics. Preclinically, integrating imaging in nanomedicine and drug delivery research has enabled the non-invasive and quantitative assessment of nanocarrier biodistribution, target site accumulation and (triggered) drug release. Clinically, imaging has been emerging as a promising tool for patient stratification, which is urgently needed to improve the translation of cancer nanomedicines. We here summarize recent progress in imaging-assisted anticancer nanotherapy and we discuss future strategies to improve the performance of cancer nanomedicines in patients.

Keywords: anticancer nanotherapy, cancer nanomedicines, nanotheranostics