The targeting of drugs specifically to their sites of action is an important strategy for increasing drug efficacy. Chemists have come up with many elegant schemes that aim to convert drugs into magic bullets. This review focuses on the chemistry that underlies these schemes, with particular emphasis on two types of cleavable covalent bonds that are frequently used to link drugs to their various carriers: disulfide bonds and hydrazone bonds. These linkages have been used to release drugs under specific conditions; in the case of disulfides, cleavage is triggered by the mildly reducing environment found in intracellular fluids, and in the case of hydrazones, the acidic conditions that prevail in endosomes cause release of the drug. The applications of these chemistries in drug delivery are reviewed.
Keywords: reversible covalent chemistry, disulfides, hydrazones, drug conjugates, drug targeting, drug delivery
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