Research leaders: Carlos Alonso-Moreno/Iván Bravo

Nanomedicine has raised many expectations to improve the treatment of cancer. It involves the use of nano-dimensional materials for diagnosis, and drug delivery. In the field of drug delivery, the drug is encapsulated into nanoparticles (NPs). The mechanism of action of such NPs is based on the enhanced permeability and retention effect (EPR) to favour its delivery to the site of interest by convection and diffusion processes. The EPR effect is a heterogeneous phenomenon which is inter and intra tumoural dependent. Nevertheless, those NPs circulating long enough in the bloodstream will be internalized into the tumour cells by endocytosis, so endosomes coupled to lysosomes will cleave the NPs to release the free therapeutic agent into the cytoplasm. In this sense, there is still room to improve the controlled intracellular delivery of these compounds. For examples, some strategies are based on active targeting which rely on the ligand-receptor binding to improve accumulation of the nanodevices to targeted sites. On the other hand, other studies have indicated that escape from the endocytic pathway could improve the delivery of therapeutic.

Currently, nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems can be formulated from soft (organic NPs) to hard materials (inorganic NPs). Nano-devices for drug delivery comprise a central material or matrix, a therapeutic payload and, in some cases, surface modifications. The development of a wide range of NPs capable of fitting the size, composition and functionality has provided an important resource for nanomedicine.


For more information, check some of our publications