Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world. Tumor-targeted drug delivery is one of the major areas in cancer research. Aptamers exhibit many desirable properties for tumor-targeted drug delivery, such as ease of selection and synthesis, high binding affinity and specificity, low immunogenicity, and versatile synthetic accessibility. Over the last several years, aptamers have quickly become a new class of targeting ligands for drug delivery applications. In this review, we will discuss in detail about aptamerbased delivery of chemotherapy drugs (e.g. doxorubicin, docetaxel, daunorubicin, and cisplatin), toxins (e.g. gelonin and various photodynamic therapy agents), and a variety of small interfering RNAs. Although the results are promising which warrants enthusiasm for aptamer-based drug delivery, tumor homing of aptamer-based conjugates after systemic injection has only been achieved in one report. Much remains to be done before aptamer-based drug delivery can reach clinical trials and eventually the day-to-day management of cancer patients. Therefore, future directions and challenges in aptamer-based drug delivery are also discussed.
Keywords: Aptamers, drug delivery, cancer, nanomedicine, theranostics, RNA interference, siRNA