Targeting tumor metastases: Drug delivery mechanisms and technologies

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Primary sites of tumor are the focal triggers of cancers, yet it is the subsequent metastasis events that cause the majority of the morbidity and mortality. Metastatic tumor cells exhibit a phenotype that differs from that of the parent cells, as they represent a resistant, invasive subpopulation of the original tumor, may have acquired additional genetic or epigenetic alterations under exposure to prior chemotherapeutic or radiotherapeutic treatments, and reside in a microenvironment differing from that of its origin. This combination of resistant phenotype and distal location make tracking and treating metastases particularly challenging. In this review, we highlight some of the unique biological traits of metastasis, which in turn, inspire emerging strategies for targeted imaging of metastasized tumors and metastasis-directed delivery of therapeutics.

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