Review Article | Published:

Cancer nanotechnology: opportunities and challenges

Nature Reviews Cancer volume 5, pages 161171 (2005) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field, which covers a vast and diverse array of devices derived from engineering, biology, physics and chemistry. These devices include nanovectors for the targeted delivery of anticancer drugs and imaging contrast agents. Nanowires and nanocantilever arrays are among the leading approaches under development for the early detection of precancerous and malignant lesions from biological fluids. These and other nanodevices can provide essential breakthroughs in the fight against cancer.

Key points

  • Nanotechnology concerns the study of devices that are themselves or have essential components in the 1–1,000 nm dimensional range (that is, from a few atoms to subcellular size).

  • Two main subfields of nanotechnology are nanovectors — for the administration of targeted therapeutic and imaging moieties — and the precise patterning of surfaces.

  • Nanotechnology is no stranger to oncology: liposomes are early examples of cancer nanotherapeutics, and nanoscale-targeted magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents illustrate the application of nanotechnology to diagnostics.

  • Photolithography is a light-directed surface-patterning method, which is the technological foundation of microarrays and the surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight approach to proteomics. Nanoscale resolution is now possible with photolithography, and will give rise to instruments that can pack a much greater density of information than current biochips.

  • The ability of nanotechnology to yield advances in early detection, diagnostics, prognostics and the selection of therapeutic strategies is predicated based on its ability to 'multiplex' — that is, to detect a broad multiplicity of molecular signals and biomarkers in real time. Prime examples of multiplexing detection nanotechnologies are arrays of nanocantilevers, nanowires and nanotubes.

  • Multifunctionality is the fundamental advantage of nanovectors for the cancer-specific delivery of therapeutic and imaging agents. Primary functionalities include the avoidance of biobarriers and biomarker-based targeting, and the reporting of therapeutic efficacy.

  • Thousands of nanovectors are currently under study. By systematically combining them with preferred therapeutic and biological targeting moieties it might be possible to obtain a very large number of novel, personalized therapeutic agents.

  • Novel mathematical models are needed, in order to secure the full import of nanotechnology into oncology.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    Drug delivery and targeting. Nature 392, 5–10 (1998).

  2. 2.

    The dawning era of polymer therapeutics. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 2, 347–360 (2003). The definitive, state-of-the-art review of polymer technology for drug-delivery application. This paper is so exhaustive that we chose not to focus on polymer nanotechnology in our review.

  3. 3.

    , , , Molecular imaging applications in nanomedicine. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 113–116 (2004).

  4. 4.

    Ligand-targeted therapeutics in anticancer therapy. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 2, 750–763 (2002).

  5. 5.

    The next frontier of molecular medicine: delivery of therapeutics. Nature Med. 4, 655–657 (1998).

  6. 6.

    , & Nanotechnology in early detection of cancer. Lab. Invest. 82, 657–662 (2002).

  7. 7.

    Liposome-based drug delivery in breast cancer treatment. Breast Cancer Res. 4, 95–99 (2002).

  8. 8.

    , , , & A multimodal nanoparticle for preoperative magnetic resonance imaging and intraoperative optical brain tumor delineation. Cancer Res. 63, 8122–8125 (2003).

  9. 9.

    et al. Imaging of iron oxide nanoparticles with MR and light microscopy in patients with malignant brain tumors. Neuropathol. Appl. Neurobiol. 30, 456–471 (2004).

  10. 10.

    & Bio-barcode-based DNA detection with PCR-like sensitivity. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126, 5932–5933 (2004). A window into the power of nanotechnology to potentially revolutionize molecular diagnostics.

  11. 11.

    The 'right' size in nanotechnology. Nature Biotechnol. 21, 1161–1165 (2003). An introduction to bionanotechnology with emphasis on the identification of its niche applications for basic research.

  12. 12.

    , & Small-scale systems for in vivo drug delivery. Nature Biotechnol. 21, 1184–1191 (2003). Whether 'nano' or 'micro' is irrelevant, as long as actual medical problems are solved.

  13. 13.

    et al. in Vector Targeting for Therapeutic Gene Delivery (eds Curiel, D.T. & Douglas, J. T.) 33–62 (Wiley and Sons, New York 2002).

  14. 14.

    & Designing macromolecules for therapeutic applications: Polyester dendrimer-polyethylene oxide 'bow-tie' hybrids with tunable molecular weights and architecture. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 124, 14137–14146 (2002).

  15. 15.

    & Comparison of cell uptake, biodistribution and tumor retention of folate-coated and PEG-coated gadolinium nanoparticles in tumor-bearing mice. J.Control. Rel. 95, 613–626 (2004).

  16. 16.

    et al. Annexin V-CLIO: a nanoparticle for detecting apoptosis by MRI. Mol. Imaging 1, 102–107 (2002).

  17. 17.

    et al. Noninvasive detection of clinically occult lymph-node metastases in prostate cancer. N. Engl. J. Med. 348, 2491–2499 (2003). A powerful illustration that for certain applications nanotechnology might be the only way to secure in vivo diagnostic information.

  18. 18.

    , & Molecular imaging of angiogenesis in early-stage atherosclerosis with αvβ3-integrin-targeted nanoparticles. Circulation 108, 2270–2274 (2003).

  19. 19.

    , & Viral-induced self-assembly of magnetic nanoparticles allows the detection of viral particles in biological media. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 10192–10193 (2003).

  20. 20.

    & Self-assembled coatings on individual monodisperse magnetite nanoparticles for efficient intracellular uptake. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 33–40 (2004).

  21. 21.

    , & Synthesis and characterization of silica-embedded iron oxide nanoparticles for magnetic resonance imaging. J. Nanosci. Nanotechnol. 4, 72–76 (2004).

  22. 22.

    , & Nanochemistry: synthesis and characterization of multifunctional nanoclinics for biological applications. Chem. Mater. 14, 3715–3721 (2002).

  23. 23.

    & DC magnetic field induced magnetocytolysis of cancer cells targeted by LH-RH magnetic nanoparticles in vitro. Biomed. Microdevices 4, 293–299 (2002).

  24. 24.

    , & Dynamics and fragmentation of thick-shelled microbubbles. IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control 49, 1400–1410 (2002).

  25. 25.

    , , & Optical observation of lipid- and polymer-shelled ultrasound microbubble contrast agents. Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 631–633 (2004).

  26. 26.

    & Nanotechnology and tumor imaging: seizing an opportunity. Mol. Imaging (in the press).

  27. 27.

    , & Detection of functional groups and antibodies on microfabricated surfaces by confocal microscopy. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 60, 137–146 (1998).

  28. 28.

    , , & Non-specific interaction of nanoparticles as drug delivery and nanoharvesting agents within the vasculature. Ann. Biomed. Eng. (in the press). Mathematical models drive the design of nanovectors for optimal use in therapeutics and diagnostics.

  29. 29.

    et al. Time-dependent behaviour of interstitial fluid pressure in solid tumors: implications for drug delivery. Cancer Res. 55, 5451–5458 (1995).

  30. 30.

    et al. Activity of amphipathic PEG 5000 to prolong the circulation time of liposomes depends on the liposome size and is unfavourable for immunoliposome binding to target. Biochem. Biophys. Acta 1062, 142–148 (1991).

  31. 31.

    Semiconductor clusters, nanocrystals, and quantum dots. Science 271, 933–937 (1996).

  32. 32.

    & Luminescent quantum dots for multiplexed biological detection and imaging. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 13, 40–46 (2002).

  33. 33.

    , & Probing the cytotoxicity of semiconductor quantum dots. Nano Lett. 4, 11–18 (2004).

  34. 34.

    , & Tracking metastatic tumor cell extravasation with quantum dot nanocrystals and fluorescence emission-scanning microscopy. Nature Med. 10, 993–998 (2004).

  35. 35.

    et al. Block copolymers micelles as vehicles. J. Control Release 24, 119–132 (1993).

  36. 36.

    et al. A new class of polymers: starburst-dendritic macromolecules. Polymer J. 17, 117–132 (1985).

  37. 37.

    , , & Lymphatic drainage imaging of breast cancer in mice by micro-magnetic resonance lymphangiography using a nano-size paramagnetic contrast agent. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 96, 703–708 (2004).

  38. 38.

    Therapeutic microdevices and methods of making and using same. US Patent 6,107,102 (2000). Early investigation of multifunctional drug-delivery nanosystems.

  39. 39.

    , , , & Microfabrication of silicon-based nanoporous particulates for medical applications. Biomed. Microdevices 5, 253–259 (2003).

  40. 40.

    & Bioconjugated nanoparticles for DNA protection from cleavage. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 7168–7169 (2003).

  41. 41.

    & The embedding of meta-tetra(hydroxyphenyl)-chlorin into silica nanoparticle platforms for photodynamic therapy and their singlet oxygen production and pH-dependent optical properties. Photochem. Photobiol. 78, 587–591 (2003).

  42. 42.

    et al. Porosified silicon wafer structures impregnated with platinum anti-tumor compounds: fabrication, characterization, and diffusion studies. Biomed. Microdevices 2, 265–273 (2000).

  43. 43.

    , & A whole blood immunoassay using gold nanoshells. Anal. Chem. 75, 2377–2381 (2003).

  44. 44.

    , & Nanoshell-mediated near-infrared thermal therapy of tumors under magnetic resonance guidance. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 13549–13554 (2003). A powerful illustration of the use of remote activation as a therapeutic targeting strategy.

  45. 45.

    et al. Light-directed spatially addressable parallel chemical synthesis. Science 251, 767–773 (1991). The foundations of microarray technology.

  46. 46.

    et al. Direct patterning of modified oligonucleotides on metals and insulators by dip-pen nanolithography. Science 296, 1836–1838 (2002).

  47. 47.

    et al. Protein nanoarrays generated by dip-pen nanolithography. Science 295, 1702–1705 (2002).

  48. 48.

    & Protein nanostructures formed via direct-write dip-pen nanolithography. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 5588–5589 (2003).

  49. 49.

    & An addressable antibody nanoarray produced on a nanostructured surface. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126, 6508–6509 (2004).

  50. 50.

    et al. Serum proteomics in cancer diagnosis and management. Annu. Rev. Med. 55, 97–112 (2004).

  51. 51.

    , , , & Opportunities for nanotechnology-based innovation in tissue proteomics. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 231–239 (2004).

  52. 52.

    & Recent advancements in surface-enhanced laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight spectrometry. Electrophoresis 21, 1164–1177 (2000).

  53. 53.

    et al. Cantilever-based optical deflection assay for discrimination of DNA single-nucleotide mismatches. Anal. Chem. 73, 1567–1571 (2001).

  54. 54.

    et al. Bioassay of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) using microcantilevers. Nature Biotechnol. 19, 856–860 (2001).

  55. 55.

    , & Microcantilever resonance-based DNA detection with nanoparticle probes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 3562–62 (2003).

  56. 56.

    , , & Microelectronic DNA assay for the detection of BRCA1 gene mutations. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 55–60 (2004).

  57. 57.

    , , & Nanowire nanosensors for highly sensitive and selective detection of biological and chemical species. Science 293, 1289–1292 (2001).

  58. 58.

    , & NanoSystems biology. Mol. Imaging Biol. 5, 312–325 (2003). Nanotechnology presented as the gateway for the transition from reductionist to systems biology.

  59. 59.

    Helical microtubules of graphitic carbon. Nature 354, 56–18 (1991).

  60. 60.

    et al. Nanotube molecular wires as chemical sensors. Science 287, 622–625 (2000).

  61. 61.

    et al. Preparation and properties of polymer-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes. Angew. Chem. Int. Engl. 40, 1721–1725 (2001).

  62. 62.

    & Noncovalent functionalization of carbon nanotubes for highly specific electronic biosensors. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 4984–4989 (2003).

  63. 63.

    et al. Direct haplotyping of kilobase-size DNA using carbon nanotube probes. Nature Biotech. 18, 760–764 (2000).

  64. 64.

    , , & Biotechnology at low Reynolds numbers. Biophys. J. 71, 3430–3441 (1996).

  65. 65.

    & Integrated nanoliter systems. Nature Biotechnol. 21, 1179–1183 (2003). References 64 and 65 describe microfluidics, from its firm establishment in biomedical research to current day concepts.

  66. 66.

    , , & Silicon membrane nanofilters from sacrificial oxide removal. J. Microelectromech. Syst. 8, 16–25 (1999).

  67. 67.

    et al. Nanopore technology for biomedical applications. Biomed. Microdevices 2, 1–40 (1999).

  68. 68.

    , , , & Nanoengineered device for drug delivery application. Nanotechnology 15, S585–S589 (2004).

  69. 69.

    & Separation of long DNA molecules in a microfabricated entropic trap array. Science 288, 1026–1029 (2000).

  70. 70.

    et al. Tailoring width of microfabricated nano-channels to solute size can be used to control diffusion kinetics. J. Control. Release (in the press).

  71. 71.

    et al. Microfabricated biocapsules provide short-term immunoisolation of insulinoma xenografts. Biomed. Microdevices 1, 131–181 (1999).

  72. 72.

    & Single molecule measurement of DNA transport through a nanopore. Electrophoresis 23, 2583–2591 (2002).

  73. 73.

    Mortality and immortality at the cellular level. Biochemistry 62, 1180–1190 (1997).

  74. 74.

    , , & Novel nanosensors for rapid analysis of telomerase activity. Cancer Res. 64, 639–643 (2004).

  75. 75.

    & Patterns and emerging mechanisms of the angiogenic switch during tumorigenesis. Cell 86, 353–364 (1996).

  76. 76.

    & The hallmarks of cancer. Cell 100, 57–70 (2000).

  77. 77.

    et al. Detection of tumor angiogenesis in vivo by αvβ3-targeted magnetic resonance imaging. Nature Med. 4, 623–626 (1998).

  78. 78.

    , & Magnetic resonance contrast enhancement of neovasculature with αvβ3-targeted nanoparticles. Magn. Reson. Med. 44, 433–439 (2000).

  79. 79.

    , & Molecular imaging of angiogenesis in nascent Vx-2 rabbit tumors using a novel αvβ3-targeted nanoparticle and 1.5 tesla magnetic resonance imaging. Cancer Res. 63, 5838–5843 (2003).

  80. 80.

    , & Targeted nanoparticles for quantitative imaging of sparse molecular epitopes with MRI. Magn. Reson. Med. 51, 480–486 (2004).

  81. 81.

    , , , & Nanoporous anti-fouling silicon membranes for implantable biosensor applications. Biosens. Bioelectron. 15, 453–462 (2000).

  82. 82.

    , et al. Translating biomolecular recognition into nanomechanics. Science 288, 316–318 (2000).

  83. 83.

    Bioassays based on molecular nanomechanics. Dis. Markers 18, 167–174 (2002).

  84. 84.

    A 2-D microcantilever array for multiplexed biomolecular analysis. J. Microelectromech. Syst. 13, 290–299 (2004).

  85. 85.

    et al. Carbon nanotube nanoelectrode array for ultrasensitive DNA detection. Nano Lett. 3, 597–602 (2003).

  86. 86.

    & Determination of eigenstresses from curvature data. Smart Materials and Materials Fabrication and Materials for MEMS. MRS Bull. 276, 221–227 (1992).

  87. 87.

    & Conjugation of biomolecules with luminophore-doped silica nanoparticles for photostable biomarkers. Anal. Chem. 73, 4988–4993 (2001).

  88. 88.

    & Ultrasensitive DNA detection using highly fluorescent bioconjugated nanoparticles. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 11474–11475 (2003).

  89. 89.

    & Immunofluorescent labeling of cancer marker Her2 and other cellular targets with semiconductor quantum dots. Nature Biotechnol. 21, 41–46 (2003).

  90. 90.

    & Long-term multiple color imaging of live cells using quantum dot bioconjugates. Nature Biotechnol. 21, 47–51 (2003).

  91. 91.

    & Optical nanosensors for chemical analysis inside single living cells. 1. Fabrication, characterization, and methods for intracellular delivery of PEBBLE sensors. Anal. Chem. 71, 4831–4836 (1999).

  92. 92.

    , & Optical nanosensors for chemical analysis inside single living cells. 2. Sensors for pH and calcium and the intracellular application of PEBBLE sensors. Anal. Chem. 71, 4837–4843 (1999).

  93. 93.

    , & Clinical proteomics: written in blood. Nature, 425, 905 (2003).

  94. 94.

    , , & Gold nano-structures for transduction of bimolecular interactions into micrometer-scale movements. Biomed. Microdevices 3, 35–41 (2001).

  95. 95.

    & A new concept for macromolecular therapies in cancer chemotherapy: mechanisms of tumortropic accumulation of proteins and the antitumor agents SMANCS. Cancer Res. 6, 6397–6392 (1986).

  96. 96.

    et al. Comparison of vascular permeability and enzymatic activation of the polymeric prodrug HPMA copolymer–doxorubicin (PK1) in human tumor xenografts. Proc. Am. Assoc. Cancer Res. 90, 41 (1999).

  97. 97.

    Delivery of molecular and cellular medicine to solid tumors. Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev. 46, 149–168 (2001). This paper sets the stage for advanced, multifunctional therapeutic delivery systems.

  98. 98.

    , , & Adhesion of micro-fabricated particles on vascular endothelium: a parametric analysis. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 32, 793–802 (2004).

  99. 99.

    & Design and function of a dendrimer-based therapeutic nanodevice targeted to tumor cells through the folate receptor. Pharm. Res. 19, 1310–1316 (2002).

  100. 100.

    & Enhanced cellular uptake of a triplex-forming oligonucleotide by nanoparticle formation in the presence of polypropylenimine dendrimers. Nucleic Acids Res. 32, 2102–2112 (2004).

  101. 101.

    & A novel antiangiogenesis therapy using an integrin antagonist or anti-Flk-1 antibody coated 90Y-labeled nanoparticles. Int. J. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 58, 115–122 (2004).

  102. 102.

    & Microfabricated drug delivery systems: concepts to improve clinical benefits. Biomed. Microdevices 3, 97–101 (2001).

  103. 103.

    & Multifunctional gold nanoparticle–peptide complexes for nuclear targeting. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 4700–4701 (2003).

  104. 104.

    , , , & Nanocrystal targeting in vivo. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 99, 12617–12621 (2002).

  105. 105.

    , & Ceramic-based nanoparticles entrapping water-insoluble photosensitizing anticancer drugs: a novel drug-carrier system for photodynamic therapy. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 7860–7865 (2003).

  106. 106.

    , & Photo-thermal tumor ablation in mice using near infrared-absorbing nanoparticles. Cancer Lett. 209, 171–176 (2004).

  107. 107.

    & Nanostructured materials designed for cell binding and transduction. Biomacromolecules 2, 362–368 (2001).

  108. 108.

    , & Poly(ethylene oxide)-modified poly(β-amino ester) nanoparticles as a pH-sensitive biodegradable system for paclitaxel delivery. J. Control. Release 86, 223–234 (2003).

  109. 109.

    & Effect of particle size and charge on the clearance rates of liposomes and liposome-encapsulated drugs. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 63, 651–658 (1975).

  110. 110.

    et al. Vascular permeability in a human tumor xenograft: molecular charge dependence. Br. J. Cancer 82, 1513–1518 (2000).

  111. 111.

    , , & Two dimensional chemotherapy simulations demonstrate fundamental transport and tumor response limitations involving nanoparticles. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 297–309 (2004).

  112. 112.

    Chronopharmaceutics: gimmick or clinically relevant approach to drug-delivery? J. Control. Release 98, 337–353 (2004).

  113. 113.

    et al. Release of biologically functional interferon-α from a nanochannel delivery system. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 297–309 (2004).

  114. 114.

    & Microfabricated immunoisolating biocapsules. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 57, 118–120 (1998).

  115. 115.

    & Cell factories for fighting cancer. Nature Biotechnol. 19, 20–21 (2001).

  116. 116.

    & Chemotherapy of glioblastoma in rats using doxorubicin-loaded nanoparticles. Int. J. Cancer 109, 759–767 (2004).

  117. 117.

    & Nanoparticle technology for drug deliver across the blood–brain barrier. Drug Dev. Ind. Pharm. 28, 1–13 (2002).

  118. 118.

    & Brain uptake of thiamine-coated nanoparticles. J. Control. Release 93, 271–282 (2003).

  119. 119.

    , & In situ blood–brain barrier transport of nanoparticles. Pharm. Res. 20, 1772–1778 (2003).

  120. 120.

    , & Modulation of enhanced permeability in tumor by a bradykinine antagonist, a cyclooxygenase inhibitor. Cancer Res. 58, 159–165 (1998).

  121. 121.

    , & Lecting-bearing polymerized liposomes as potential oral vaccine carriers. Pharm. Res. 13, 1378–1383 (1996).

  122. 122.

    , & Bioadhesive polymethyl methacrylate microdevices for controlled drug delivery. J. Control Rel. 88, 215–228 (2003).

  123. 123.

    et al. Particles for oral delivery of peptides and proteins. US Patent 6,355,270 (2002).

  124. 124.

    et al. Recognition properties of antibodies to PAMAM dendrimers and their use in immune detection of dendrimers. Biomed. Microdevices 3, 53–59 (2001).

  125. 125.

    et al. Biochemical and immunological properties of cytokines conjugated to dendritic polymers. Biomed. Microdevices 6, 191–202 (2004).

  126. 126.

    , & Interstitial stress and fluid pressure within a growing tumor. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 31, 327–335 (2003).

  127. 127.

    & Determination of the bioavailability of biotin conjugated onto shell cross-linked (SCK) nanoparticles. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126, 6599–6607 (2004).

  128. 128.

    & Spectroscopic approach for on-line monitoring of particle size during the processing of pharmaceutical nanoparticles. Anal. Chem. 75, 1777–1785 (2003).

  129. 129.

    & in Encyclopedia of Controlled Drug Delivery (ed. Maliniowitz, E.) 786–816 (Wiley, New York, 1999).

  130. 130.

    et al. Intravascular origin of metastasis from the proliferation of endothelium-attached tumor cells: a new model for metastasis. Nature Med. 6, 100–102 (2000).

  131. 131.

    et al. Persistence of solitary mammary carcinoma cells in a secondary site: a possible contribution to dormancy. Cancer Res. 62, 2162–2168 (2002).

  132. 132.

    et al. In vivo measurement of gene expression, angiogenesis and physiological function in tumors using multiphoton laser scanning microscopy. Nature Med. 7, 864–868 (2001).

  133. 133.

    et al. Single cell behaviour in metastatic primary mammary tumors correlated with gene expression patterns revealed by molecular profiling. Cancer Res. 62, 6278–6288 (2002).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The author is indebted to A. Barker, R. Duncan, L. Hartwell, L. Liotta, R. Smalley, A. von Eschenbach and S. Venuta for discussions and recommendations. The assistance in the literature review by J. Alper, M. Chang, M. Merlo, J. Sakamoto and P. Sinha is gratefully acknowledged. Support for this work was provided by The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, the National Cancer Institute's Office of Technology and Industrial Relations, and the State of Ohio's Biomedical Research and Technology Transfer programme.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Division of Haematology and Oncology, 110U Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, The Ohio State University, 473 West 12th Avenue, Columbus OH 43210-1002, USA, and the National Cancer Institute, 31 Center Drive MSC 2580, Room 10A52, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.  ferrari.5@osu.edu

    • Mauro Ferrari

Authors

  1. Search for Mauro Ferrari in:

Competing interests

Through his patents, the author has a financial interest in research presented in references 27, 38–39, 51, 66–68, 70, 71, 81, 114 and 123. iMEDD Inc. of Foster City, California, posseses commercial rights on several of the author's patents. The author is a shareholder, consultant and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of iMEDD Inc. He is Editor in Chief of the archival journal Biomedical Microdevices: BioMEMS and Biomedical Nanotechnology.

Glossary

NANOVECTOR

A hollow or solid structure, with diameter in the 1–1,000 nanometre range, which can be filled with anticancer drugs and detection agents. Targeting moieties can also be attached to the surface. Nanovectors can be used for targeted gene therapy.

LIPOSOME

A type of nanovector made of lipids surrounding a water core.

NANOPARTICLE

A solid nanovector, typically made of a single material.

RETICULO-ENDOTHELIAL SYSTEM

A system composed of monocytes and macrophages that is located in reticular connective tissue (for example, in the spleen). These cells are responsible for phagocytosing and removing cellular debris, pathogens and foreign substances from the bloodstream.

NANOSHELLS

A nanoparticle composed of a gold shell surrounding a semiconductor. When nanoshells reach their target they can be irradiated to make the nanoshell hot — the heat kills the cancer cell.

NANOCANTILEVERS

Flexible beams, resembling a row of diving boards, that can be coated with molecules capable of binding to cancer biomarkers.

NANOWIRES

Nanoscale sensing wires that can be coated with molecules such as antibodies to bind to proteins of interest and transmit their information through electrodes to computers.

FULLERENE

A nanoscale structure, composed of carbon atoms arranged in a specific soccer-ball-like architecture. Fullerenes are a form of carbon (C-60), which also forms nanotubes.

NANOTUBES

Cylinder-like assemblies of carbon atoms, with cross-sectional dimensions in the nanometre range, and lengths that can extend over a thousand times their diameters.

CELL XENOGRAFTS

Cross-species, therapeutic cell transplants.

SENTINEL LYMPH-NODE BIOPSY

A surgical approach for the assessment of the metastatic involvement of lymph nodes. It is based on the hypothesis that if the node that is nearest to a tumour is negative, the others along the same pattern of spread will also be negative.

QUANTUM DOTS

Semiconductor particles with an inert polymer coating. The material used for the core can be chosen depending on the emission wavelength range being targeted. Targeting molecules can be attached to the coating.

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc1566