Caterina Minelli, Stuart B. Lowe and Molly M. Stevens
The cover picture shows how the novel and unique physical properties of inorganic nanoscale particles can be applied to cancer therapy. Surface functionalization with biocompatible polymers and natural or rationally designed biomolecules can improve current technologies and holds great promise for cancer diagnosis, imaging, and therapy. Engineered nanoparticles can be delivered into tumors taking advantage of the defective tumor vasculature or by means of magnetic fields. Tumor cells overexpress biomarkers, which can also be used as targets to direct nanoparticle delivery. Once in the tumor, nanoparticles can deliver drugs bound to their surface or act as heat sources causing tumor cell death when irradiated, for example, by infrared light. Some nanoparticles also act as contrast enhancers for common tumor imaging techniques. Additionally, nanoparticles can be engineered to recognize and respond to tumor biomarkers, providing highly sensitive sensing tools. As represented in the figure, cancer biomarkers can trigger the disassembly of gold nanoparticle aggregates causing a color change from blue to red in the nanoparticle solution. For more information, please read the Review “Engineering Nanocomposite Materials for Cancer Therapy” by M. M. Stevens and co-workers, beginning on page 2336.