Nano-therapeutics for modulating the tumour microenvironment: Design, development, and clinical translation

Siddharth Adityan, Michelle Tran, Chintan Bhavsar, Sherry Y. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Nanoparticles (NPs) that permit active targeting promise to play a key role in cancer therapy moving forward. However, in order to successfully advance into clinic, these delivery platforms not only must target individual tumoural cellular components but also require safe, efficient and scalable production. Herein, we review recent and innovative targeted nanoparticle delivery strategies to individual TME components, including cancer-associated blood and lymphatic vessels, pericytes, cancer associated fibroblasts, and cancer stem cells. In contrast to traditional therapies that promote widespread ablation, emerging nano-strategies that specifically modulate different cell populations of the TME, such as targeting pericytes and endothelial cells for vascular normalization, are proving to effectively deliver therapeutics to tumours. Additionally, new smart targeted NPs with transformable characteristics responsive to specific tumour microenvironmental cues demonstrate enhanced spatiotemporal control over cell targeting and therapeutic release. However, translating these therapies to the clinic requires overcoming several significant barriers such as failure to recapitulate the human TME in animal models and issues with NP targeting efficacy, safety and scalable production. We discuss recent efforts to overcome these challenges and innovative means to reduce off-target toxicities. We also highlight important deficiencies in current NP development and offer new perspectives on the design of pre-clinical and clinical trials to accelerate clinical translation of targeted NP platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-532
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2020


  • Active targeting
  • Cancer
  • Clinical translation
  • Nanoparticle
  • Tumour microenvironment


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