CHAPTER 4: Thermo-responsive Nanomedicines for Drug Delivery in the Gastrointestinal Tract
Published:09 Jul 2018
The design of systems that are able to deliver drugs in a controlled manner to specific organs, tissues and/or cells targets has been a major goal, as well as a huge challenge, in the field of nanomedicine. Besides the possibility of passive and active targeting, stimuli-responsive nanomedicines can effectively release drugs after being exposed to specific microenvironmental conditions, resulting from natural or pathological processes. In particular, thermo-responsive nanomedicines, systems that release the drug when triggered by variations in microenvironmental temperature, have been shown to be promising for the treatment of multiple medical conditions, including inflammation and cancer. Since inflammatory and cancerous tissues present temperature values above those considered physiological, several nanomedicines have been developed by using thermo-responsive polymers that can be engineered in order to release their cargo in response to mild temperature changes. In such a way, these systems may increase the drug concentration at the desired site, while healthy tissues are minimally affected. This chapter discusses the use of thermo-responsive nanomedicines for the delivery of drugs in the specific context of the gastrointestinal tract. In particular, the importance of nanotechnology in the development of thermo-responsive formulations for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases and gastrointestinal cancers is addressed.