Design Strategies and Applications of Circulating Cell-Mediated Drug Delivery Systems

Yixue Su, Zhiwei Xie, Gloria B. Kim, Cheng Dong, Jian Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Drug delivery systems, particularly nanomaterial-based drug delivery systems, possess a tremendous amount of potential to improve the diagnostic and therapeutic effects of drugs. Controlled drug delivery targeted to a specific disease is designed to significantly improve the pharmaceutical effects of drugs and reduce their side effects. Unfortunately, only a few targeted drug delivery systems can achieve high targeting efficiency after intravenous injection, even with the development of numerous surface markers and targeting modalities. Thus, alternative drug and nanomedicine targeting approaches are desired. Circulating cells, such as erythrocytes, leukocytes, and stem cells, present innate disease sensing and homing properties. Hence, using living cells as drug delivery carriers has gained increasing interest in recent years. This review highlights the recent advances in the design of cell-mediated drug delivery systems and targeting mechanisms. The approaches of drug encapsulation/conjugation to cell carriers, cell-mediated targeting mechanisms, and the methods of controlled drug release are elaborated here. Cell-based "live" targeting and delivery could be used to facilitate a more specific, robust, and smart payload distribution for the next-generation drug delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-217
Number of pages17
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 14 2015


  • circulating cells
  • drug delivery
  • immune cells
  • nanoparticles
  • stem cells
  • targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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