Recent advances on small-molecule nanomedicines for cancer treatment

Xiangdong Xue, Aaron Lindstrom, Haijing Qu, Yuanpei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Nanomedicines have made important contributions in the development of cancer therapies due to their tumor selectivity, multifunctionality, and synergistic effect between the payloads. In addition to the required pharmaceutical ingredients, nanomedicines are generally composed of nonpharmaceutical excipients. These excipients generally form a large proportion of the nanomedicine, and they may have potential toxicity and greatly increase the cost for drug development. Small molecule nanomedicines (SMNs) minimize or abandon the excipients and are directly assembled from pharmaceutical ingredients, which can largely improve the drug delivery efficiency and biosafety while also relieving the financial burden of drug development. In this review, we summarize recently developed SMNs that are composed of a single drug, physical mixtures of multiple drugs, drug–drug covalent conjugates, dyes with drugs, photosensitizers with drugs, photosensitizers with peptides, and drugs with peptides. This review focuses on the SMN's applications in cancer treatments, their limitations, and the future development outlook of SMNs. We hope that our insights on SMNs may be helpful to the future of drug development and make nanomedicine more powerful in the battle with cancer. This article is categorized under: Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Nanomedicine for Oncologic Disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1607
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • cancer treatment
  • nanomedicine
  • self-assembly
  • small molecules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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