Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology

, Volume 82, Issue 5, pp 741–755 | Cite as

Liposomal therapies in oncology: does one size fit all?

  • Isabel Sousa
  • Filipa Rodrigues
  • Hugo Prazeres
  • Raquel T. LimaEmail author
  • Paula Soares
Review Article


Liposomal therapies opened the chapter of nanomedicine, in 1995, with the approval of liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil®) for the treatment of numerous types of cancer. For the first time, liposomes permitted the employment of potent chemotherapeutic agents with improved pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles, with less undesired side effects. Liposomal therapies allow the drug encapsulation and more selective delivery in the tumor bed, particularly due to the enhanced permeation and retention effect. These unique characteristics explain why liposomal therapies are being increasingly considered as alternatives in cancer therapy and represent an important research field with the recent approval for clinical use and emergent formulations in clinical trials. Even so, the response rate of liposomal therapies varies between 5 and 71%, and they are still indistinguishably given to every patient. As already well-demonstrated for conventional chemotherapies and targeted therapies, there is also the need for predictive biomarkers that allow a better use of liposomal drugs, with higher patient quality of life. Our aim in this review was to address the approved liposomal therapies and to summarize the information concerning possible predictive markers of response in their various clinical applications, to personalize each patient treatment and maximize its efficacy.


Cancer Drug delivery systems Liposomal therapy Nanotechnology Predictive markers 



This work was financed by FEDER—Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional funds through the COMPETE 2020—Operacional Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI), Portugal 2020, and by Portuguese funds through FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia/Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação in the framework of the project “Institute for Research and Innovation in Health Sciences” (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007274) and the project POCI 01-0145-FEDER-031520. Further funding was obtained from the project “Advancing cancer research: from basic knowledgment to application”; NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000029; “Projetos Estruturados de I&D&I”, funded by Norte 2020—Programa Operacional Regional do Norte.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, University of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Department of OncologyCentro Hospitalar de S. JoãoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.i3S- Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto (Institute for Research and Innovation in Health, University of Porto)PortoPortugal
  4. 4.Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP)PortoPortugal
  5. 5.Department of PathologyFaculty of Medicine, University of PortoPortoPortugal

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