Particle tracking in drug and gene delivery research: State-of-the-art applications and methods

Benjamin S. Schuster, Laura M. Ensign, Daniel B. Allan, Jung Soo Suk, Justin Hanes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Particle tracking is a powerful microscopy technique to quantify the motion of individual particles at high spatial and temporal resolution in complex fluids and biological specimens. Particle tracking's applications and impact in drug and gene delivery research have greatly increased during the last decade. Thanks to advances in hardware and software, this technique is now more accessible than ever, and can be reliably automated to enable rapid processing of large data sets, thereby further enhancing the role that particle tracking will play in drug and gene delivery studies in the future. We begin this review by discussing particle tracking-based advances in characterizing extracellular and cellular barriers to therapeutic nanoparticles and in characterizing nanoparticle size and stability. To facilitate wider adoption of the technique, we then present a user-friendly review of state-of-the-art automated particle tracking algorithms and methods of analysis. We conclude by reviewing technological developments for next-generation particle tracking methods, and we survey future research directions in drug and gene delivery where particle tracking may be useful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-91
Number of pages22
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 30 2015


  • Automated particle tracking
  • Biological barrier
  • Diffusion
  • Image analysis
  • Microscopy
  • Mucus
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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