Multifunctional biomolecule nanostructures for cancer therapy

Jing Wang, Yiye Li, Guangjun Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Biomolecule-based nanostructures are inherently multifunctional and harbour diverse biological activities, which can be explored for cancer nanomedicine. The supramolecular properties of biomolecules can be precisely programmed for the design of smart drug delivery vehicles, enabling efficient transport in vivo, targeted drug delivery and combinatorial therapy within a single design. In this Review, we discuss biomolecule-based nanostructures, including polysaccharides, nucleic acids, peptides and proteins, and highlight their enormous design space for multifunctional nanomedicines. We identify key challenges in cancer nanomedicine that can be addressed by biomolecule-based nanostructures and survey the distinct biological activities, programmability and in vivo behaviour of biomolecule-based nanostructures. Finally, we discuss challenges in the rational design, characterization and fabrication of biomolecule-based nanostructures, and identify obstacles that need to be overcome to enable clinical translation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-783
Number of pages18
JournalNature Reviews Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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