Cancer treatment still remains a challenge due to the several limitations of currently
used chemotherapeutics, such as their poor pharmacokinetics, unfavorable chemical
properties, as well as inability to discriminate between healthy and diseased tissue.
Nanotechnology offered potent tools to overcome these limitations. Drug encapsulation
within a delivery system permitted i) to protect the payload from enzymatic degradation/
inactivation in the blood stream, ii) to improve the physicochemical properties of
poorly water-soluble drugs, like paclitaxel, and iii) to selectively deliver chemotherapeutics
to the cancer lesions, thus reducing the off-target toxicity, and promoting the intracellular
internalization. To accomplish this purpose, several strategies have been developed,
based on biological and physical changes happening locally and systemically as a consequence
of tumorigenesis. Here, we will discuss the role of inflammation in the different
steps of tumor development and the strategies based on the use of nanoparticles that exploit
the inflammatory pathways in order to selectively target the tumor-associated microenvironment
for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.