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Dendrimers as Nanocarriers for Nucleic Acid and Drug Delivery in Cancer Therapy

Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasilia 70040-020, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2017, 22(9), 1401;
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 18 August 2017 / Accepted: 21 August 2017 / Published: 23 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dendrimers in Medicine)
PDF [1316 KB, uploaded 23 August 2017]


Dendrimers are highly branched polymers with easily modifiable surfaces. This makes them promising structures for functionalization and also for conjugation with drugs and DNA/RNA. Their architecture, which can be controlled by different synthesis processes, allows the control of characteristics such as shape, size, charge, and solubility. Dendrimers have the ability to increase the solubility and bioavailability of hydrophobic drugs. The drugs can be entrapped in the intramolecular cavity of the dendrimers or conjugated to their functional groups at their surface. Nucleic acids usually form complexes with the positively charged surface of most cationic dendrimers and this approach has been extensively employed. The presence of functional groups in the dendrimer’s exterior also permits the addition of other moieties that can actively target certain diseases and improve delivery, for instance, with folate and antibodies, now widely used as tumor targeting strategies. Dendrimers have been investigated extensively in the medical field, and cancer treatment is one of the greatest areas where they have been most used. This review will consider the main types of dendrimer currently being explored and how they can be utilized as drug and gene carriers and functionalized to improve the delivery of cancer therapy. View Full-Text
Keywords: dendrimers; PAMAM; PPI; PLL; cancer; nucleic acid; drug dendrimers; PAMAM; PPI; PLL; cancer; nucleic acid; drug

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Palmerston Mendes, L.; Pan, J.; Torchilin, V.P. Dendrimers as Nanocarriers for Nucleic Acid and Drug Delivery in Cancer Therapy. Molecules 2017, 22, 1401.

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