Background: Cancer poses a major public health issue, is linked with high mortality rates across the world, and shows a strong interplay between genetic and environmental factors. To date, common therapeutics, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiotherapy, have made significant contributions to cancer treatment, although diverse obstacles for achieving the permanent “magic bullet” cure have remained. Recently, various anticancer therapeutic agents designed to overcome the limitations of these conventional cancer treatments have received considerable attention. One of these promising and novel agents is the siRNA delivery system; however, poor cellular uptake and altered siRNA stability in physiological environments have limited its use in clinical trials. Therefore, developing the ideal siRNA delivery system with low cytotoxicity, improved siRNA stability in the body’s circulation, and prevention of its rapid clearance from bodily fluids, is rapidly emerging as an innovative therapeutic strategy to combat cancer. Moreover, active targeting using ligand moieties which bind to over-expressed receptors on the surface of cancer cells would enhance the therapeutic efficiency of siRNA.
Conclusion: In this review, we provide 1) an overview of the non-viral carrier associated with siRNA delivery for cancer treatment, and 2) a description of the five major cancer-targeting ligands.