Author(s): C. Andraos and M. Gulumian

Source: Nanomed Nanobiotechnol. 2020; e1680

Abstract:  Cancer nanomedicine has evolved in recent years and is only expected to increase due to the ease with which nanomaterials (NMs) may be manipulated to the advantage of the cancer patient. The success of nanomedicine is dependent on the cell death mechanism, which in turn is dependent on the organelle initially targeted. The success of cancer nanomedicine is also dependent on other cellular mechanisms such as the induction of autophagy dysfunction, manipulation of the tumor microenvironment (TME) and secretome or induction of host immune responses. Current cancer phototherapies for example, photothermal- or photodynamic therapies as well as radio enhancement also form a major part of cancer nanomedicine. In general, cancer nanomedicine may be grouped into those NMs exhibiting inherent anti-cancer properties that is, self-therapeutic NMs (Group 1), NMs leading to localization of phototherapies or radio-enhancement (Group 2), and NMs as nanocarriers in the absence or presence of external radiation (Group 3). The recent advances of these three groups, together with their advantages and disadvantages as well as their cellular mechanisms and ultimate outcomes are summarized in this review. By exploiting these different intracellular mechanisms involved in initiating cell death pathways, it is possible to synthesize NMs that may have the desirable characteristics to maximize their efficacy in cancer therapy. Therefore, a summary of these important physicochemical characteristics is also presented that need to be considered for optimal cancer cell targeting and initiation of mechanisms that will lead to cancerous cell death.

Keywords: cancer therapy, cell death pathways, intracellular mechanisms, nanomaterial characteristics, nanomedicine