Malignant gliomas are one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer and despite advancements in treatment, patient prognosis remains poor, with an average survival of 15 months. Treatment using conventional chemotherapy does not deliver the required drug dose to the tumour site, owing to insufficient blood brain barrier (BBB) penetration, especially by hydrophilic drugs. Additionally, low molecular weight drugs cannot achieve specific accumulation in cancerous tissues and are characterized by a short circulation half-life. Nanoparticles can be designed to cross the BBB and deliver their drugs within the brain, thus improving their effectiveness for treatment when compared to administration of the free drug. The efficacy of nanoparticles can be enhanced by surface PEGylation to allow more specificity towards tumour receptors. This review will provide an overview of the different therapeutic strategies for the treatment of malignant gliomas, risk factors entailing them as well as the latest developments for brain drug delivery. It will also address the potential of polymeric nanoparticles in the treatment of malignant gliomas, including the importance of their coating and functionalization on their ability to cross the BBB and the chemistry underlying that.
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