Strategies and Means for Drug Targeting: An Overview

  • Vladimir P. Torchilin


The specificity of pharmaceuticals towards disease sites or individual diseases is usually based on a drug’s ability to interfere with local pathological processes or with defective biological pathways, but not on its selective accumulation in the specific intracellular compartment or in the target cell, organ or tissue. Traditional pharmaceutical agents, practically independent of the administration route, distribute evenly (or at least proportionally to a regional blood flow) within the body. In addition, they have to cross many biological barriers to reach the site of disease and can cause undesirable side-effects or be inactivated in organs and tissues not even involved in the pathological process. Consequently, to achieve an effective therapeutic concentration in a desired location, one has to administer the drug in large quantities, which increases the cost of the therapy and the severity of side-effects. Long ago it was hypothesized that the problem may be resolved by achieving so-called targeted drug delivery: the ability of the drug to accumulate in the target organ or tissue selectively and quantitatively, independent of the site and methods of its administration. This type of delivery was expected to increase drug concentration in the target area without any side-effects in normal tissues. For any pharmaceutical, including both therapeutic and diagnostic agents, the following advantages of a targeted delivery drug are evident: (a) simplification of administration protocols; (b) drastic reduction in the cost of therapy and drug quantity required to achieve a therapeutic effect; (c) sharp increase in drug concentration in the required sites without negative effects on non-target areas.


Drug Target Drug Carrier Polymeric Micelle Lewis Lung Carcinoma Antimyosin Antibody 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vladimir P. Torchilin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bouve College of Health SciencesNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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