Bioinspired approaches for cancer nanotheranostics

Michael Evangelopoulos, Ennio Tasciotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Since the introduction of x-ray imaging, medicine has employed and extensively relied on imaging modalities to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. Today, the most advanced imaging methods utilize augmented virtual environments by combining high-resolution dynamic imagery with 3D models to better monitor disease progression and response to therapy [1]. With the recent strides made in the advancement of nanotechnology, many have envisioned this as an innovative component to further empower the field of imaging and diagnostic-based medicine [2]. The unique physical and chemical characteristics of nanoparticles (e.g., optical, magnetic, thermal, and imaging properties) have provided unparalleled solutions to diseases, such as localized tumor suppression in colon cancer through the combination of nanoparticle-mediated photodynamic, photothermic and chemo-based therapy [3] or the development of a ‘smart’ nanoporphyrin platform for the amplification of image sensitivity while providing photothermal therapy [4].

There are currently several theranostic-based approaches that combine therapeutic and diagnostic functions into a single nanoparticle that are either being developed preclinically or entering clinical trials [5]. To wholly harness the capability of these theranostic nanoparticles, scientists have been studying how cells, tissues and organs interact with injected nanomaterials. In our attempt to strategically design a vehicle capable of overcoming the many biological barriers encountered during transport, we decided to leverage on the physiology of the body and, in particular, on the biology of the barriers that nanoparticles must elude. Nonspecific uptake of nanoparticles by healthy organs and sequestration by phagocytic cells are only some of the obstacles that nanoparticles are required to overcome in their journey to diseased tissue [6]. We were among the first to hypothesize and demonstrate that nanoparticles that closely mimic the biological composition of our bodies could have a considerable impact in further maximizing the efficiency of delivery vectors [6–8]. Thus, the development of theranostic technologies that employ biological materials or multi-step delivery vectors could drastically increase the effectiveness of theranostics, leading to a viable one-step treatment solution.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-7
Number of pages3
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017


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