Biomaterials for Cancer Therapies

A section of Journal of Functional Biomaterials (ISSN 2079-4983).

Section Information

Cancer, also known as a malignant tumor or neoplasm, is a complex disease of genetic origin, affecting all tissues in the body, and, second to cardiovascular diseases, is the leading primary cause of illness-related death in the world. The growing impact of cancer on global health due to high costs for therapy associated with poor quality of life and high mortality rate of patients has labeled cancer as a societal challenge for this century. In cancer research, there is a continuous effort to discover new treatments and improve the current therapeutic approaches. Even though therapeutic efficacy has greatly improved in recent decades, much remains to be achieved and to be understood to treat this disease. In fact, the structural and biological complexity of tumors, their invasiveness, and relapses hinder the development of effective therapies.

Recently, biomaterials have revealed the opportunity to contribute to fighting cancer. Biomaterial-based micro- and nanoparticles, e.g., liposomes, dendrimers, nanotubes, along with micro- and nanorobots have been shown to provide benefits as drug delivery systems in cancer therapy, including but not limited to chemo-, combined, thermal therapies, and imaging. In addition, gene editing technologies are expected to avail themselves of nanobiomaterials as non-viral vectors. On the other hand, macro-scale implantable biomaterial devices are emerging as highly versatile therapeutic platforms, able to offer multifunctional and creative strategies against tumors, such as to deliver polychemotherapy locally, trap metastases, and act as immunotherapy. Biomaterials-based scaffolds endorsing the concept of tissue engineering (i.e., cancer tissue engineering) can be exploited to generate and replicate 3D tumor models in vitro, thus enabling a better comprehension of the tumor microenvironment and therapy performance assessment in a personalized and precise manner.

Owing to their versatile and easily tunable properties, biomaterials hold promise to treat and study neoplasms, therefore largely contributing to solutions to the societal challenge of cancer.

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Special Issues

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