The central problem in cancer chemotherapy is the severe toxic side effects of anticancer drugs on healthy tissues. The use of liposomes as drug delivery vehicles for antitumour therapeutics has great potential to revolutionise the future of cancer therapy. As tumour architecture causes liposomes to preferentially accumulate at the tumour site, their use as drug carriers results in the localization of a greater amount of the loaded drug at the tumour site, thus improving cancer therapy and reducing the harmful non-specific side effects of chemotherapeutics. In addition, targeting of liposomal anticancer drugs to antigens expressed or over-expressed on tumour cells provides a very efficient system for increasing the therapeutic indices of the drugs. Animal models allow detailed examination of molecular and physiological basis of diseases and offer a frontline testing system for studying the involvement of specific genes and the efficacy of novel therapeutic approaches. Until recently, the most resorted experimental model of paediatric Neuroblastoma (NB) tumour is the subcutaneous xenograft in nude mice. However, the main disadvantage of this animal model is that it does not reflect the metastatic potential of NB cells, ultimately responsible for poor patient survival. A more realistic view of the clinical potential of targeted therapies could be obtained if a tumour model were available that better reflects the growth of advanced NB in children (i.e. large adrenal gland tumours and multiple small metastatic lesions). All current data support this concept and recommend that orthotopic implantation of tumour cells in recipient animals is mandatory for studies of tumour progression, angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. This review will focus on the description of the most clinically relevant animal models established to test the efficacy of targeted liposomal anti-tumour formulations for the treatment of Neuroblastoma.
Keywords: Drug delivery vehicles, drug carriers, cancer chemotherapy, cancer antisense therapy, magic bullets, pseudometastatic model, orthotopic model
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