Targeted Drug Delivery: A Simple Guide – Gilero

What is Targeted Drug Delivery? 

Targeted drug delivery is a method of delivering medication to a patient in a manner that increases the concentration of the medication in a specific site of the body.  This direct method prevents the harmful effects to healthy tissue due to drug interactions.  The goal of targeted drug delivery is to have a protected drug interaction with the diseased tissue.  

How does Targeted Drug Delivery Work? 

Targeted drug delivery heavily relies on the use of nanoparticles, which are particles of matter that are usually between 1-100 nanometers (nm) in diameter. These nanoparticles are loaded with the specific drug and then targeted to specific parts of the body where there is exclusively diseased tissue, therefore, avoiding interactions with the healthy tissue.  

Different Methods of Targeted Drug Delivery 

There are two types of targeting methods: passive and active.  

Passive Targeting: In passive targeting, the drug’s success correlates to its circulation time. The nanoparticle in passive targeting is coated with a specific substance, such as polyethylene glycol (PEG). The nanoparticles accumulate preferentially in the neoplastic tissues because of the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) phenomenon. The drug loaded nanoparticles can stay in circulation for a longer period of time and allows for efficient localization of the drug within the tumor microenvironment.  

Active Targeting: In active targeting, it is important to know the nature of the cell that the drug will be targeted to. Then, researchers can utilize cell- specific ligands that will allow the nanoparticle to bind to that specific cell directly. The nanoparticles bind directly to the receptors on the cell that they are intended to target. Therefore, the cells that are targeted actively uptake the nanoparticles themselves.  

Benefits of Drug Targeting in Healthcare

Targeted drug delivery has helped shaped the healthcare industry by offering a method that reduces the frequency of dosages taken by the patient, as well as the amount of medicine they are required to take, which leads to less side effects and risk of different drugs interacting dangerously with each other. Progress in this field has also changed the landscape of cancer therapy. Drug delivery materials have now advanced to where they can enable the modulation of the drug’s pharmacological parameters, without compromising the intended effect on the specific target. Specifically, these advancements allow for modulation of the drug’s pharmacokinetics, stability, absorption and exposure to tumors and healthy tissues.

Challenges Associated with Drug Targeting

The challenges associated with a targeted drug delivery system include the inability to administer the drug if the patient is unconscious, along with risks of low solubility and permeability which results in an undesired effect of the medication. In addition, when it comes to cancer therapy, targeted drug delivery will not work if the tumor does not have the specific genetic change or protein that the drug targets, and it is possible that the intended tumor or site will not respond to the drug or the response will not last over time.

Importance of Targeted Drug Delivery 

Targeted drug delivery and drug delivery systems are important because they allow for the protection of the surrounding and non-diseased tissues in the body. This helps maintain the required plasma and tissue drug levels in the body and helps prevent any damage and contamination to healthy tissue. With targeted drug delivery, lower doses of the medicine are required to be effective so there is greater control over toxicity within the body. In addition, targeted drug delivery can be used to treat many diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancerous tumors.

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