Theranostics 2021; 11(2):579-601. doi:10.7150/thno.48811


MRI-traceable theranostic nanoparticles for targeted cancer treatment

Tareq Anani, Shiva Rahmati, Nayer Sultana, Allan E. David

Department of Chemical Engineering, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA

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Anani T, Rahmati S, Sultana N, David AE. MRI-traceable theranostic nanoparticles for targeted cancer treatment. Theranostics 2021; 11(2):579-601. doi:10.7150/thno.48811. Available from

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Current cancer therapies, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are imprecise, non-specific, and are often administered at high dosages - resulting in side effects that severely impact the patient's overall well-being. A variety of multifunctional, cancer-targeted nanotheranostic systems that integrate therapy, imaging, and tumor targeting functionalities in a single platform have been developed to overcome the shortcomings of traditional drugs. Among the imaging modalities used, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides high resolution imaging of structures deep within the body and, in combination with other imaging modalities, provides complementary diagnostic information for more accurate identification of tumor characteristics and precise guidance of anti-cancer therapy. This review article presents a comprehensive assessment of nanotheranostic systems that combine MRI-based imaging (T1 MRI, T2 MRI, and multimodal imaging) with therapy (chemo-, thermal-, gene- and combination therapy), connecting a range of topics including hybrid treatment options (e.g. combined chemo-gene therapy), unique MRI-based imaging (e.g. combined T1-T2 imaging, triple and quadruple multimodal imaging), novel targeting strategies (e.g. dual magnetic-active targeting and nanoparticles carrying multiple ligands), and tumor microenvironment-responsive drug release (e.g. redox and pH-responsive nanomaterials). With a special focus on systems that have been tested in vivo, this review is an essential summary of the most advanced developments in this rapidly evolving field.

Keywords: MRI-guided therapy, combination therapy, multimodal imaging, active targeting, magnetic targeting