Many pharmaceuticals on the market suffer from two significant limitations to their activity: lack of specificity
toward the pathological site and poor aqueous solubility. Both factors therefore require the application of a large total dose
of a drug to achieve high local concentration, causing numerous off-target toxic effects. Consequently, the grand aim of
targeted drug delivery - the often-referred “magic bullet” - promises to improve drug concentration at the target site and
maximize therapeutic response. Nanomaterial drug delivery systems have been explored extensively in the recent years
for just this purpose. In the field of medicine, nanocarriers (NCs) have the potential to improve the biodistribution and
pharmacokinetic characteristics of drugs, thereby reducing side effects while improving the therapeutic effect of drugs.
Many nanomaterials are exquisitely designed and possess potent properties, yet it is extremely important to note that a
general understanding of the interaction of nanomaterials with biological systems is essential for any such model properties
to be effective in vivo, since the body presents a host of biological ‘barriers’ that will be encountered drug NCs. This
review offers a general overview of the different biological obstacles that a NC must negotiate before it can carry out its
desired role as a medicinal agent. From this standpoint we suggest aspects that should be considered for the rational design
of novel nanomaterials possessing physicochemical properties that are appropriate for therapeutic or theragnostic applications.
Keywords: Nanomedicine, nanocarrier, biological barrier, passive targeting, drug specificity, vascular endothelium.
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