Stimuli-responsive liposome-nanoparticle assemblies

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Introduction: Nanoscale assemblies are needed that achieve multiple therapeutic objectives, including cellular targeting, imaging, diagnostics and drug delivery. These must exhibit high stability, bioavailability and biocompatibility, while maintaining or enhancing the inherent activity of the therapeutic cargo. Liposome-nanoparticle assemblies (LNAs) combine the demonstrated potential of liposome-based therapies, with functional nanoparticles. Specifically, LNAs can be used to concentrate and shield the nanoparticles and, in turn, stimuli-responsive nanoparticles that respond to external fields can be used to control liposomal release. The ability to design LNAs via nanoparticle encapsulation, decoration or bilayer-embedment offers a range of configurations with different structures and functions. Areas covered: This paper reviews the current state of research and understanding of the design, characterization and performance of LNAs. A brief overview is provided on liposomes and nanoparticles for therapeutic applications, followed by a discussion of the opportunities and challenges associated with combining the two in a single assembly to achieve controlled release via light or radiofrequency stimuli. Expert opinion: LNAs offer a unique opportunity to combine the therapeutic properties of liposomes and nanoparticles. Liposomes act to concentrate small nanoparticles and shield nanoparticles from the immune system, while the nanoparticle can be used to initiate and control drug release when exposed to external stimuli. These properties provide a platform to achieve nanoparticle-controlled liposomal release. LNA design and application are still in infancy. Research concentrating on the relationships among LNA structure, function and performance is essential for the future clinical use of LNAs. © 2011 Informa UK, Ltd.

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Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery