Background: The search for a drug delivery system is a highly desirable target when toxic drugs are considered (e.g. chemotherapeutics) or when the site of action of a drug is difficult to approach due to the pharmacokinetic profile of the chosen therapeutic agent.
Objective: Among the different delivery systems, those based on natural or semi-synthetic polysaccharides are very promising, due to their biocompatibility and biodegradability. Up to now, different polysaccharides are investigated, mainly based on chitosan, alginic acid, dextran and hyaluronic acid.
Method: These compounds are easily chemically modified, so that derivatives able to form nanoparticles or micro vector by interaction with other chemicals (e.g. by ionotropic gelation). These delivery systems can be loaded with the drug of interest in a way that dramatically change its pharmacokinetic profile, and further derivatization with molecules that selectively target the site of interest (e.g. neoplastic cells) is possible.
Results and Conclusion: In this review, we describe the stateof–the-art of polysaccharide-based biopolymeric drug delivery systems developed into the last ten years, with a particular attention to the most commonly used polysaccharides (dextran, chitosan, hyaluronic acid, alginic acid), the chemical derivatization procedures and the perspective use of the obtained vehicles in clinical medicine.