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Stealth liposomes: review of the basic science, rationale, and clinical applications, existing and potential

Authors Maria Laura Immordino, Franco Dosio, Luigi Cattel

Published 15 September 2006 Volume 2006:1(3) Pages 297—315

Maria Laura Immordino, Franco Dosio, Luigi Cattel

Dipartimento di Scienza e Tecnologia del Farmaco, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

Abstract: Among several promising new drug-delivery systems, liposomes represent an advanced technology to deliver active molecules to the site of action, and at present several formulations are in clinical use. Research on liposome technology has progressed from conventional vesicles (“first-generation liposomes”) to “second-generation liposomes”, in which long-circulating liposomes are obtained by modulating the lipid composition, size, and charge of the vesicle. Liposomes with modified surfaces have also been developed using several molecules, such as glycolipids or sialic acid. A significant step in the development of long-circulating liposomes came with inclusion of the synthetic polymer poly-(ethylene glycol) (PEG) in liposome composition. The presence of PEG on the surface of the liposomal carrier has been shown to extend blood-circulation time while reducing mononuclear phagocyte system uptake (stealth liposomes). This technology has resulted in a large number of liposome formulations encapsulating active molecules, with high target efficiency and activity. Further, by synthetic modification of the terminal PEG molecule, stealth liposomes can be actively targeted with monoclonal antibodies or ligands. This review focuses on stealth technology and summarizes pre-clinical and clinical data relating to the principal liposome formulations; it also discusses emerging trends of this promising technology.

Keywords: liposomes, stealth liposomes, targeted liposomes, immunoliposomes

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