Date: 01 Feb 2012

Targeted, Multifunctional Hydrogel Nanoparticles for Imaging and Treatment of Cancer

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Abstract

Use of nanoparticles as a platform for carrying drugs, image contrast agents, or both has been considered to be a revolutionary approach for cancer diagnosis and therapy. Especially, hydrogel nanoparticles have drawn considerable interest as a very promising platform because of their favorable characteristics, based on the conceptual combination of nanoparticle and hydrogel. Nanoparticles can carry high payloads and target selectively to tumors because of their nanosize and engineering capability. The hydrogel characteristics, including hydrophilicity and reversible, stimuli-responsive swelling/deswelling, enable long plasma circulation times and controlled drug release. Hydrogel nanoparticles made of natural, synthetic, or combinations of both polymers have been designed, prepared, and applied for treatment and imaging of cancer with various therapeutic and imaging modalities. This chapter describes various types of hydrogel nanoparticles developed for cancer applications and their preparation methods and analyzes their characteristics which make them suitable for cancer therapy and imaging. It also presents selected applications of hydrogel nanoparticles for imaging (for diagnosis and surgical delineation) and therapeutic modalities as well as for integrated therapy and imaging.