Nanoparticles based on natural, engineered or synthetic proteins and polypeptides for drug delivery applications
Evangelos Georgilis, Mona Abdelghani, Jan Pille, Esra Aydinlioglu, Jan C M van Hest, Sébastien Lecommandoux, Elisabeth Garanger
Medicine formulations at the nanoscale, referred to as nanomedicines, have managed to overcome key challenges encountered during the development of new medical treatments and entered clinical practice, but considerable improvement in terms of local efficacy and reduced toxicity still need to be achieved. Currently, the fourth-generation of nanomedicines is being developed, employing biocompatible nanocarriers that are targeted, multifunctional, and stimuli-responsive. Proteins and polypeptides can fit the standards of an efficient nanovector because of their biodegradability, intrinsic bioactivity, chemical reactivity, stimuli-responsiveness, and ability to participate in complex supramolecular assemblies. These biomacromolecules can be obtained from natural resources, produced in heterologous hosts, or chemically synthesized, allowing for different designs to access suitable carriers for a variety of drugs. To enhance targeting or therapeutic functionality, additional chemical modifications can be applied. This review demonstrates the potential of polypeptide and protein materials for the design of drug delivery nanocarriers with a special focus on their preclinical evaluation in vitro and in vivo.