Analysis of nanoparticle delivery to tumours

Stefan Wilhelm, Anthony J Tavares, Qin Dai, Seiichi Ohta, Julie Audet, Harold F Dvorak, Warren CW Chan

Nature Reviews Materials volume 1, Article number: 16014 (2016)  | Link


Targeting nanoparticles to malignant tissues for improved diagnosis and therapy is a popular concept. However, after surveying the literature from the past 10 years, only 0.7% (median) of the administered nanoparticle dose is found to be delivered to a solid tumour. This has negative consequences on the translation of nanotechnology for human use with respect to manufacturing, cost, toxicity, and imaging and therapeutic efficacy. In this article, we conduct a multivariate analysis on the compiled data to reveal the contributions of nanoparticle physicochemical parameters, tumour models and cancer types on the low delivery efficiency. We explore the potential causes of the poor delivery efficiency from the perspectives of tumour biology (intercellular versus transcellular transport, enhanced permeability and retention effect, and physicochemical-dependent nanoparticle transport through the tumour stroma) as well as competing organs (mononuclear phagocytic and renal systems) and present a 30-year research strategy to overcome this fundamental limitation. Solving the nanoparticle delivery problem will accelerate the clinical translation of nanomedicine.