Tumor-specific targeting is a critical goal in the research area of liposomal drug delivery. Identification of the specific interactions between ligands and target tumor cells is a principle prerequisite in achieving this goal. Generally, tumor cells aberrantly express tumor-associated antigens that can be utilized as appropriate target molecules. Monoclonal antibodies against tumor-associated antigens have been successfully adopted for targeting to various types of cancer cells. The incorporation of humanized monoclonal antibodies or single chain human antibodies, instead of rodent antibodies into immunoliposomes has resulted in better clinical applicability. Tumor-specific ligands other than monoclonal antibodies have also been investigated as in vivo tumor-directing molecules. However, the number of pre-clinical studies of anticancer treatments using tumor-specific liposomal drugs reporting successful targeting and enhanced therapeutic efficacy has been limited. Further refinement of tumor-specific interactions and liposomal formulations will be necessary for the application of the tumor-specific liposomal drug strategy for anticancer chemotherapy or gene therapy.

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