Nanomedicine in Pancreatic Cancer: Current Status and Future Opportunities for Overcoming Therapy Resistance

Michelle K. Greene*, Michael C. Johnston, Christopher J. Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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The development of drug resistance remains one of the greatest clinical oncology challenges that can radically dampen the prospect of achieving complete and durable tumour control. Efforts to mitigate drug resistance are therefore of utmost importance, and nanotechnology is rapidly emerging for its potential to overcome such issues. Studies have showcased the ability of nanomedicines to bypass drug efflux pumps, counteract immune suppression, serve as radioenhancers, correct metabolic disturbances and elicit numerous other effects that collectively alleviate various mechanisms of tumour resistance. Much of this progress can be attributed to the remarkable benefits that nanoparticles offer as drug delivery vehicles, such as improvements in pharmacokinetics, protection against degradation and spatiotemporally controlled release kinetics. These attributes provide scope for precision targeting of drugs to tumours that can enhance sensitivity to treatment and have formed the basis for the successful clinical translation of multiple nanoformulations to date. In this review, we focus on the longstanding reputation of pancreatic cancer as one of the most difficult-to-treat malignancies where resistance plays a dominant role in therapy failure. We outline the mechanisms that contribute to the treatment-refractory nature of these tumours, and how they may be effectively addressed by harnessing the unique capabilities of nanomedicines. Moreover, we include a brief perspective on the likely future direction of nanotechnology in pancreatic cancer, discussing how efforts to develop multidrug formulations will guide the field further towards a therapeutic solution for these highly intractable tumours.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6175
Number of pages26
Issue number24
Early online date07 Dec 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 Dec 2021


  • nanomedicine
  • pancreatic cancer
  • resistance


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