Connecting drug delivery reality to smart materials design

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Inflated claims to both design and mechanistic novelty in drug delivery and imaging systems, including most nanotechnologies, are not supported by the generally poor translation of these systems to clinical efficacy. The “form begets function” design paradigm is seductive but perhaps over-simplistic in translation to pharmaceutical efficacy. Most innovations show few clinically important distinctions in their therapeutic benefits in relevant preclinical disease and delivery models, despite frequent claims to the contrary. Long-standing challenges in drug delivery issues must enlist more realistic, back-to-basics approaches to address fundamental materials properties in complex biological systems, preclinical test beds, and analytical methods to more reliably determine fundamental pharmaceutical figures of merit, including drug carrier purity and batch-batch variability, agent biodistribution, therapeutic index (safety), and efficacy.

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