Nanoparticles in Colorectal Cancer Therapy: Latest In Vivo Assays, Clinical Trials, and Patents


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Its poor response to current treatment options in advanced stages and the need for efficient diagnosis in early stages call for the development of new therapeutic and diagnostic strategies. Some of them are based on the use of nanometric materials as carriers and releasers of therapeutic agents and fluorescent molecules, or even on the utilization of magnetic materials that provide very interesting properties. These nanoformulations present several advantages compared with the free molecular cargo, including increased drug solubility, bioavailability, stability, and tumor specificity. Moreover, tumor multidrug resistance has been decreased in some cases, leading to improved treatment effectiveness by reducing drug dose and potential side effects. Here, we present an updated overview of the latest advances in clinical research, in vivo studies, and patents regarding the application of nanoformulations in the treatment of CRC. Based on the information gathered, a wide variety of nanomaterials are being investigated in clinical research, even in advanced phases, i.e., close to reaching the market. In sum, these novel materials can offer remarkable advantages with respect to current therapies, which could be complemented or even replaced by these nanosystems in the near future.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3















Arginine deiminase


Breast cancer


Breast cancer resistance protein






Colorectal cancer


d-α-Tocopherol polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate


Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase




Epidermal growth factor receptor


Epithelial cell adhesion molecule




Glutathione reductase


Head and neck melanoma





LV or FOL:

Leucovorin or folinic acid


Lung cancer


Multidrug resistance








Pigment epithelium-derived factor


Poly (ethylene glycol)




Porphyrin carbon quantum dots conjugated with cetuximab


Photothermal therapy


Programmed cell death-1 ligand-1 antibody


Proton-coupled folate transporter




Reduced folate transporter 1


Short hairpin RNA molecule


Sinusoidal endothelial cells


Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles


Thymidylate synthase






Tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase 1




Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor


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This work was funded by the Consejería de Salud de la Junta de Andalucía (PI-0102-2017) and by the Group CTS-107. This work was also partially supported by a grant from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) (PI19/01478) (FEDER).

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Correspondence to José Prados.

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Cabeza, L., Perazzoli, G., Mesas, C. et al. Nanoparticles in Colorectal Cancer Therapy: Latest In Vivo Assays, Clinical Trials, and Patents. AAPS PharmSciTech 21, 178 (2020).

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Key Words

  • colorectal cancer
  • nanoformulations
  • clinical trials
  • patents
  • in vivo studies