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Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the most lethal malignancies, characterised by a poor response to conventional chemotherapy and rapid development of secondary resistances. Compared with most other digestive tract cancers, progress in PC treatment has been miniscule over the past decades. The most frequently mutated genes, KRAS and p53, are still difficult to target, and so far only EGFR inhibition (erlotinib) is routinely used in clinical practice for targeted therapy. PC treatment is further complicated by a dense tumour stroma and low vessel density, leading to impaired drug delivery and high adverse effects of systemic therapy.1
In an elegant study published in Gut, Mahajan et al attempted to address issues related to drug delivery, efficacy and toxicity in PC by nanotechnology-based in vivo RNAi.2 They used superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) to carry small interfering RNA (siRNA) against polo-like kinase-1 (PLK1) as well as residues for ligand-directed specific targeting of cancer cells.
Nanoparticles are structures on the scale of 1–100 nm that can be exploited for drug delivery. There are different classes of nanoparticles, including lipid-based (organic lipids in a single or bilayer structure), polymeric (solid particles or …