Brief Comment About Cancer Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is a field of applied science that covers a broad range of topics in which matter is controlled on a scale of 1-1,000 nm. Its application to cancer chemotherapy includes the use of nanovectors for the targeted delivery of antitumor compounds and imaging contrast agents, aiming at increasing the efficacy per dose of therapeutic or imaging contrast formulations.28

Liposomes, which are the simplest forms of nanovectors, use the EPR effect to increase drug concentration at tumor sites, and were first applied to anthracy-clines in order to avoid their cardiotoxicity. The refinement of liposomes and their application in cancer chemotherapy is still an active field of research, although other novel drug delivery modalities have appeared.29,30 In general, a nanovector has a core constituent material, a therapeutic and/or imaging payload, and biological surface modifiers to enhance biodistribution and tumor targeting. Among several types of nanoparticles directed to enhance the properties of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents,31 dendrimers, which are self-assembling polymers, have been used in mouse models of breast cancer to study the lymphatic drainage by MRI.32

Several nanotechnologies are realistic candidates for the precise patterning of biological molecules, including DNA microarrays and surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (SELDI-TOF) mass spectrometry.33

DNA microarrays are devices used for molecular diagnostics, genotyping, and biomarking. They are single-stranded DNA probes that are prepared through a sequential procedure that implies selective ultraviolet deprotection of hydroxyl groups. With the ability to control the molecular depositions of polynucleotides in a nanometer range, the information might be packed in nanoarrays directed at nucleic acids34 or at the detection of proteomic profiles.35

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