Better ways to give medicines

Cancer is one of the major causes of death in our society. The anti-cancer drugs currently used in chemotherapy produce several side effects and, although fatal for almost all cells in a tumor, a small percentage of cells appear to resist the treatment. It is therefore urgent to design new therapies that specifically target these cells while causing no harm to healthy tissue. The resistance to multiple drugs is linked to the presence of specific molecules at the cellular plasma membrane, that actively pump out chemical drugs (efflux pumps). Additionally, some cancer cells have the ability to self-renew, thereby initiating secondary tumor growth. Multi-drug resistant cells and cancer stem cells are suggested to be the main cause of treatment failure and relapse. In recent years, nanoparticle-based drug delivery platforms have emerged as the next-generation of pharmaceutical compounds. The surface of the nanoparticles can be modified to target specific cells, while the core of the particle can be loaded with anti-cancer drugs.