Cancer nanotherapeutics are rapidly progressing and are being implemented to solve several limitations of conventional drug delivery systems such as nonspecific biodistribution and targeting, lack of water solubility, poor oral bioavailability, and low therapeutic indices. To improve the biodistribution of cancer drugs, nanoparticles have been designed for optimal size and surface characteristics to increase their circulation time in the bloodstream. They are also able to carry their loaded active drugs to cancer cells by selectively using the unique pathophysiology of tumors, such as their enhanced permeability and retention effect and the tumor microenvironment. In addition to this passive targeting mechanism, active targeting strategies using ligands or antibodies directed against selected tumor targets amplify the specificity of these therapeutic nanoparticles. Drug resistance, another obstacle that impedes the efficacy of both molecularly targeted and conventional chemotherapeutic agents, might also be overcome, or at least reduced, using nanoparticles. Nanoparticles have the ability to accumulate in cells without being recognized by P-glycoprotein, one of the main mediators of multidrug resistance, resulting in the increased intracellular concentration of drugs. Multifunctional and multiplex nanoparticles are now being actively investigated and are on the horizon as the next generation of nanoparticles, facilitating personalized and tailored cancer treatment.
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