Antibody-targeted liposomes in cancer therapy and imaging

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Background: Targeted liposomes can be broadly defined as liposomes that are engineered to interact with a particular population of cells with the objective of delivering a payload or increasing their retention within the targeted cell population by means of a chemical interaction with cell-surface molecules or other tissue-specific ligands. Objective: The authors review recent advances in the field with an emphasis on pre-clinical studies and place them in the context of historical developments. Methods: The review focuses on immunoliposomes (antibody-mediated targeting) as these constructs are presently the most prevalent. Conclusion: The field has advanced in tandem with advances in liposome design and antibody and protein engineering. Targeted liposomes have been used in diagnosis to deliver magnetic resonance contrast agents and radionuclides for magnetic resonance and nuclear medicine imaging, respectively. They have been used in gene therapy to deliver a variety of gene expression modifiers, including plasmids, anti-sense oligonucleotides and short interfering RNA. Targeted liposomes provide a delivery advantage over untargeted liposomes not because of increased localization to tumor sites but because of increased interaction with the target cell population once localized to the tumor site. The increased interaction can take on the form of fusion with the cellular membrane or internalization by endocytosis. To the extent that the spatial distribution of targeted liposomes within a solid tumor may become more non-uniform than has been found for untargeted liposomes, this may be a drawback. However, systematic comparisons of the spatial distribution in tumors of targeted versus untargeted liposomes have yet to be performed. The majority of reported studies have been in the area of chemotherapy delivery. Their use in radionuclide and chemo- and radio- sensitizer delivery is just emerging. Multifunctional liposomes containing 'layered functionalities' could potentially be the future direction in targeted liposome-based therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages16
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008


  • Immunoliposomes
  • Liposomes
  • Targeted liposomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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