Imaging-guided delivery of RNAi for anticancer treatment

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The RNA interference (RNAi) technique is a new modality for cancer therapy, and several candidates are being tested clinically. In the development of RNAi-based therapeutics, imaging methods can provide a visible and quantitative way to investigate the therapeutic effect at anatomical, cellular, and molecular level; to noninvasively trace the distribution; to and study the biological processes in preclinical and clinical stages. Their abilities are important not only for therapeutic optimization and evaluation but also for shortening of the time of drug development to market. Typically, imaging-functionalized RNAi therapeutics delivery that combines nanovehicles and imaging techniques to study and improve their biodistribution and accumulation in tumor site has been progressively integrated into anticancer drug discovery and development processes. This review presents an overview of the current status of translating the RNAi cancer therapeutics in the clinic, a brief description of the biological barriers in drug delivery, and the roles of imaging in aspects of administration route, systemic circulation, and cellular barriers for the clinical translation of RNAi cancer therapeutics, and with partial content for discussing the safety concerns. Finally, we focus on imaging-guided delivery of RNAi therapeutics in preclinical development, including the basic principles of different imaging modalities, and their advantages and limitations for biological imaging. With growing number of RNAi therapeutics entering the clinic, various imaging methods will play an important role in facilitating the translation of RNAi cancer therapeutics from bench to bedside.

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