Lectins are proteins / glycoproteins of non-immunological origin found ubiquitously in all
organisms. Research investigations show that many types of diseased tissues often display glycans that
vary from their normal counterparts. Therefore, lectins that can interact with these transformed glycans
may be used for early diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Specificity of lectins towards glycans has
greatly attracted nanobiotechnology in engineering lectin functionalized nanoparticles. Conjugating
lectin with a nanosystem can identify and specifically attach to the carbohydrate moieties of glycoproteins
expressed on cell surfaces and this has led to the development of several lectin functionalized
nanoparticles to target drugs to various tissues with minimized systemic side effects. Such efficient
lectin functionalized nanoparticles developed so far, and their role in targeted drug delivery, targeted
therapies and oral immunization are reviewed. Technical difficulties behind designing and targeting
these lectin functionalized nanoparticles are also discussed.
Keywords: Drug delivery, glycoprotein, immunization, nanocrystals, nanoparticles, photodynamic therapy.
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