Cancer has become one of the leading causes of death in the world, therefore effective treatment strategies are needed to address the growing cancer burden. Chemotherapy has been established as a standard treatment in various cancer therapies, and hundreds of antitumor drugs have been developed and approved for human use. However, drug sensitivity in cancer cells has been reduced due to the emergence of multiple drug resistance (MDR) induced by a variety of factors, including ATP-dependent drug efflux out of the cell, selective stress of drugs, altered DNA repair mechanisms, cellular heterogeneity in the tumors, and other drug barriers.

Natural cells have been explored as drug carriers for a long period. In the last few decades, there have been some discoveries and breakthroughs. Cell membrane-based surface engineering technology has emerged as a promising approach, which manipulates living cells by decorating the cell membrane with specific molecules of interest and specialized structures, thereby providing cells with new characteristics and functions. These engineered cells have received growing interest as a promising drug delivery system for cancer therapy along with the development of biology and medical science.

Generally, cell membrane-based surface engineering technology can be a powerful tool for engineering new interactions and controlling cell functions through selective chemical reactions or the introduction of exogenous targeting ligands. In addition to chemical coupling and modification of functional groups, ligands that modify the cell surface also include recombinant proteins, liposomes, or nanoparticles. In recent years, cell membrane coating technology has been reported as a novel interfacing approach from the biological and immunological perspective, and has been shown to prolong the circulation of nanomedicine in the bloodstream and demonstrate the tumor-targeting potential by molecular recognition.

Cell membrane-coated nanoparticles (CM-NPs) are used as drug-loaded carriers that can be directed to specific targets through the use of various surface moieties involved in complex biological mechanisms, making them ideal in NP-based cancer therapies. CM-NPs have made a notable contribution by aiding NP-based cancer therapies in overcoming drug resistance. The main advantage of CM-NPs lies in their multiple properties. For example, it provides immune escape and specific tumor targeting imparted by the cell membrane proteins, leading to enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) in cancer therapies, and ultimately leading to tumor regression.

A research team at the University of California, San Diego, has developed a novel method of disguising nanoparticles as red blood cells, which will enable them to evade the body's immune system and deliver cancer-fighting drugs straight to a tumor. "This is the first work that combines the natural cell membrane with a synthetic nanoparticle for drug delivery applications," said a professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. "This nanoparticle platform will have little risk of immune response."

Prompted by substantial developments in nanotechnology and biotechnology, revolutionary changes have made crucial contributions to deliver cytotoxic drugs at the desired location for tumors. However, there are several limitations and challenges associated with this strategy. For example, CM-NPs are limited by complex preparation methods, easy deactivation in large-scale synthesis, and difficult preservation, and these issues should be investigated further and addressed in the future. Additionally, researchers examining CM-NPs should focus on their translation from experimental research to clinical applications.

Author's Bio: 

A big fan of biotechnology and science.