Liposomes and nanotechnology in drug development: focus on neurological targets
Pedro Ramos-Cabrer, Francisco Campos
Clinical Neurosciences Research Laboratory, Department of Neurology, Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago, University of Santiago de Compostela, Health Research Institute of Santiago, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Abstract: Neurological diseases represent a medical, social, and economic problem of paramount importance in developed countries. Although their etiology is generally known, developing therapeutic interventions for the central nervous system is challenging due to the impermeability of the blood–brain barrier. Thus, the fight against neurological diseases usually struggles "at the gates" of the brain. Flooding the bloodstream with drugs, where only a minor fraction reaches its target therapeutic site, is an inefficient, expensive, and dangerous procedure, because of the risk of side effects at nontargeted sites. Currently, advances in the field of nanotechnology have enabled development of a generation of multifunctional molecular platforms that are capable of transporting drugs across the blood–brain barrier, targeting specific cell types or functional states within the brain, releasing drugs in a controlled manner, and enabling visualization of processes in vivo using conventional imaging systems. The marriage between drug delivery and molecular imaging disciplines has resulted in a relatively new discipline, known as theranostics, which represents the basis of the concept of personalized medicine. In this study, we review the concepts of the blood–brain barrier and the strategies used to traverse/bypass it, the role of nanotechnology in theranostics, the wide range of nanoparticles (with emphasis on liposomes) that can be used as stealth drug carriers, imaging probes and targeting devices for the treatment of neurological diseases, and the targets and targeting strategies envisaged in the treatment of different types of brain pathology.
Keywords: nanotechnology, theranostics, blood–brain barrier, brain, central nervous system