The search for more efficient therapeutic strategies and diagnosis tools is a continuous challenge. Advances in understanding the biological mechanisms behind diseases and tissues regeneration have widened the field of applications of particulate systems. Particles are no more just protective systems for the encapsulated drugs, but they play an active role in the success of the therapy. Moreover, particles have been explored for innovative purposes as templates for cells growth and as diagnostic tools. Until few years ago the most relevant parameters in particles formulation were the chemistry and the size. Currently, it is known that other physical characteristics can remarkably affect the performance of particulate systems. Particles with non-conventional shapes exhibit advantages due to the increasing circulation time in blood stream, less clearance by the immune system and more efficient cell internalization and trafficking. Creation of compartments has been found useful to control drug release, to tune the transport of substances across biological barriers, to supply the target with more than one bioactive agent or even to act as theranostic systems. It is expected that such complex shaped and compartmentalized systems improve the therapeutic outcomes and also the patient's compliance, acting as advanced devices that serve for simultaneous diagnosis and treatment of the disease, combining agents of very different features, at the same time. In this review, we overview and analyse the most recent advances in particle shape and compartmentalization and applications of newly designed particulate systems in the biomedical field.
Chemical and physical properties of particles are crucial design parameters in the development of innovative strategies for diagnosis and/or therapy. In addition to particle composition, tuning compartmentalization and shape allows encapsulation of multiple molecules, cells or even both into one single particle, and regulation of particle interactions with cells.