, Volume 384, Issue 3, pp 620-630
Date: 27 Jan 2006

Nano-oncology: drug delivery, imaging, and sensing

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Innovation in the last decade has endowed nanotechnology with an assortment of tools for delivery, imaging, and sensing in cancer research—stealthy nanoparticle vectors circulating in vivo, assembled with exquisite molecular control, capable of selective tumor targeting and potent delivery of therapeutics; intense and photostable quantum dot-based tumor imaging, enabling multicolor detection of cell receptors with a single optical excitation source; arrays of semiconducting nanowire and carbon nanotube sensor elements for selective multiplexed sensing of cancer markers without the need for probe labeling. These rapidly emerging tools are indicative of a burgeoning field ready to expand into medical applications. This review attempts to outline most of the current nanoparticle toolset for therapeutic release by liposomes, dendrimers, smart polymers, and virus-based systems. Advantages of nanoparticle-based imaging and targeting by use of nanoshells and quantum dots are also explored. Finally, emerging nanoelectronics-based sensing and a global discussion on the utility of each nanoparticle system addresses their fundamental advantages and shortcomings in cancer research.