Combined cancer therapeutics—Tackling the complexity of the tumor microenvironment

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Cancer treatment has yet to find a “silver bullet” capable of selectively and effectively kill tumor cells without damaging healthy cells. Nanomedicine is a promising field that can combine several moieties in one system to produce a multifaceted nanoplatform. The tumor microenvironment (TME) is considered responsible for the ineffectiveness of cancer therapeutics and the difficulty in the translation from the bench to bed side of novel nanomedicines. A promising approach is the use of combinatorial therapies targeting the TME with the use of stimuli-responsive nanomaterials which would increase tumor targeting. Contemporary combined strategies for TME-targeting nanoformulations are based on the application of external stimuli therapies, such as photothermy, hyperthermia or ultrasounds, in combination with stimuli-responsive nanoparticles containing a core, usually composed by metal oxides or graphene, and a biocompatible stimuli-responsive coating layer that could also contain tumor targeting moieties and a chemotherapeutic agent to enhance the therapeutic efficacy. The obstacles that nanotherapeutics must overcome in the TME to accomplish an effective therapeutic cargo delivery and the proposed strategies for improved nanotherapeutics will be reviewed. This article is categorized under: Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Nanomedicine for Oncologic Disease Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Emerging Technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1704
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • cancer
  • cancer therapeutics
  • nanomedicine
  • nanoparticles
  • tumor microenvironment


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