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The use of nanocarriers such as liposomes to deliver anticancer drugs to tumors can significantly enhance the therapeutic index of otherwise unencapsulated cytotoxic agents. This is in part because of the fact that the phospholipid bilayer can protect healthy sensitive tissue from the damaging effects of these types of drugs. Furthermore, the ease with which the phospholipid bilayer surface can be modified to allow for polyethylene glycol incorporation resulting in pegylated liposomes allow for increased circulation times in vivo, and thus an overall increase in the concentration of the drug delivered to the tumor site. This explains the clinical success of the liposomal-based drug Doxil, which has proven to be quite efficacious in the treatment of breast cancer. However, significant challenges remain involving poor drug transfer between the liposome and tumor cells with this type of nontargeted drug delivery system. Thus, future work involves the development of “smart” drugs, or targeted drug delivery intended for improved colocalization between the drug and cancerous cells. While it is not possible to entirely discuss such a rapidly growing field of study involving many different types of chemotherapeutics here, in this review, we discuss some of the recent advancements involving the development of targeted liposome-based chemotherapeutics to treat breast cancer.
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