Nanocarriers as Potential Targeted Drug Delivery for Cancer Therapy

  • Gautam SinghviEmail author
  • Vamshi Krishna Rapalli
  • Shakti Nagpal
  • Sunil Kumar Dubey
  • Ranendra Narayan Saha
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 39)


Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells and is the leading cause of death worldwide with an incidence of 11 million new cases each year. Nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems have received much attention for cancer treatment. Nanocarriers are the delivery systems which are prepared by alteration of the size (1–1000 nm) and shape of a material to the nano-range level. Nanocarriers are prepared by utilizing natural, polymeric, inorganic magnetic silica-based materials. Various nanocarriers including liposomes, solid lipid nanoparticles, polymeric nanoparticles, dendrimers, magnetic nanoparticles, and other inorganic nanoparticles have been investigated for diagnostic, therapeutic, and drug targeting in cancer therapy. Nanocarriers act as a cancer-specific drug delivery or diagnostic agent by inherent passive targeting mechanism or adopted active targeting strategies by altering the surface properties with specific ligands. Targeted nanoparticulate systems increase the accumulation of the chemotherapeutic agent in the tumor tissue and reduce the toxicity to healthy cells. Nanocarriers extend the drug release for a longer duration and protect the drug from degradation. Nanocarriers are also proven effective for improving the pharmacokinetics of poorly soluble hydrophobic drugs by solubilizing or permeating them through lipophilic biological barriers.

Approximately 1500 patents are filed with respect to nanocarrier-based formulation of cancer therapeutics. However, clinically approved nanocarrier-based therapeutics are very few in number, but the trend reveals the number of nanocarrier-based formulations is increased in recent years. The clinical studies of nanocarrier-based formulations have shown improved safety and efficacy. The main hitch in the commercialization of nanocarriers is the difficulty to achieve optimum particle size distribution, scale-up of the formulation, and reproducibility. Conversely, nanocarrier-based therapeutics lack adequate guidelines from drug regulatory authorities. The proposed chapter will address the different nanocarriers and advances in the surface engineering of nanoparticles for cancer cell targeting, diagnosis, and drug delivery applications. The focus of this book chapter is to provide an insight into various nanocarriers for their multiple applications in the treatment of cancer.


Cancer Chemotherapeutic agent Cytotoxicity Drug delivery systems Multidrug resistance Nanocarriers Nanotechnology Nucleic acid Reticuloendothelial system Targeted drug delivery Tumor 



Deoxyribonucleic acid


Ribonucleic acid


Enhanced permeation and retention effect




Dioleoyl phosphatidylcholine


Reticuloendothelial system


Polyethylene glycol


Dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine






Phenylboronic ester-functionalized methacrylate


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gautam Singhvi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vamshi Krishna Rapalli
    • 1
  • Shakti Nagpal
    • 1
  • Sunil Kumar Dubey
    • 1
  • Ranendra Narayan Saha
    • 1
  1. 1.Industrial Research Laboratory, Department of PharmacyBirla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS)PilaniIndia

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