Biomembrane-based nanostructures for cancer targeting and therapy: From synthetic liposomes to natural biomembranes and membrane-vesicles

Jing Wang, Motao Zhu, Guangjun Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The translational success of liposomes in chemotherapeutics has already demonstrated the great potential of biomembrane-based nanostructure in effective drug delivery. Meanwhile, increasing efforts are being dedicated to the application of naturally derived lipid membranes, including cellular membranes and extracellular vesicles in anti-cancer therapies. While synthetic liposomes support superior multifunctional flexibility, natural biomembrane materials possess interesting biomimetic properties and can also be further engineered for intelligent design. Despite being remarkably different from each other in production and composition, the phospholipid bilayer structure in common allows liposomes, cell membrane-derived nanomaterials, and extracellular vesicles to be modified, functionalized, and exploited in many similar manners against challenges posed by tumor-targeted drug delivery. This review will summarize the recent advancements in engineering the membrane-derived nanostructures with “intelligent” modules to respond, regulate, and target tumor cells and the microenvironment to fight against malignancy. We will also discuss perspectives of combining engineered functionalities with naturally occurring activity for enhanced cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113974
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Cancer vaccine
  • Cell membrane camouflages
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Gene therapy
  • Multifunctional liposomes
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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