Nanomedicine, an emerging therapeutic strategy for oral cancer therapy

Sabrina Marcazzan, Elena Maria Varoni, Elvin Blanco, Giovanni Lodi, Mauro Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Oral cavity and oropharyngeal carcinomas (oral cancer) represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Despite efforts in improving early diagnosis and treatment, the 5-year survival rate of advanced stage of the disease is less than 63%. The field of nanomedicine has offered promising diagnostic and therapeutic advances in cancer. Indeed, several platforms have been clinically approved for cancer therapy, while other promising systems are undergoing exploration in clinical trials. With its ability to deliver drugs, nucleic acids, and MRI contrast agents with high efficiency, nanomedicine platforms offer the potential to improve drug efficacy and tolerability. The aim of the present mini-review is to summarize the current preclinical status of nanotechnology systems for oral cancer therapy. The nanoplatforms for delivery of chemopreventive agents presented herein resulted in significantly higher anti-tumor activity than free forms of the drug, even against a chemo-resistant cell line. Impressive results have also been obtained using nanoparticles to deliver chemotherapeutics, resulting in reduced toxicity both in vitro and in vivo. Nanoparticles have also led to improvements in efficacy of photodynamic therapies through the development of targeted magnetic nanoparticles. Finally, gene therapy using nanoparticles demonstrated promising results specifically with regards to inhibition of gene expression. Of the few in vivo studies that have been reported, many of these used animal models with several limitations, which will be discussed herein. Lastly, we will discuss several future perspectives in oral cancer nanoparticle-based therapy and the development of appropriate animal models, distinguishing between oral cavity and oropharyngeal carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Liposomes
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticle-based drug delivery
  • Oral cancer therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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