Emerging concepts in dendrimer-based nanomedicine: From design principles to clinical applications

R. M. Kannan, E. Nance, S. Kannan, D. A. Tomalia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Dendrimers are discrete nanostructures/nanoparticles with 'onion skin-like' branched layers. Beginning with a core, these nanostructures grow in concentric layers to produce stepwise increases in size that are similar to the dimensions of many in vivo globular proteins. These branched tree-like concentric layers are referred to as 'generations'. The outer generation of each dendrimer presents a precise number of functional groups that may act as a monodispersed platform for engineering favourable nanoparticle-drug and nanoparticle-tissue interactions. These features have attracted significant attention in medicine as nanocarriers for traditional small drugs, proteins, DNA/RNA and in some instances as intrinsically active nanoscale drugs. Dendrimer-based drugs, as well as diagnostic and imaging agents, are emerging as promising candidates for many nanomedicine applications. First, we will provide a brief survey of recent nanomedicines that are either approved or in the clinical approval process. This will be followed by an introduction to a new 'nanoperiodic' concept which proposes nanoparticle structure control and the engineering of 'critical nanoscale design parameters' (CNDPs) as a strategy for optimizing pharmocokinetics, pharmocodynamics and site-specific targeting of disease. This paradigm has led to the emergence of CNDP-directed nanoperiodic property patterns relating nanoparticle behaviour to critical in vivo clinical translation issues such as cellular uptake, transport, elimination, biodistribution, accumulation and nanotoxicology. With a focus on dendrimers, these CNDP-directed nanoperiodic patterns are used as a strategy for designing and optimizing nanoparticles for a variety of drug delivery and imaging applications, including a recent dendrimer-based theranostic nanodevice for imaging and treating cancer. Several emerging preclinical dendrimer-based nanotherapy concepts related to inflammation, neuro-inflammatory disorders, oncology and infectious and ocular diseases are reviewed. Finally we will consider challenges and opportunities anticipated for future clinical translation, nanotoxicology and the commercialization of nanomedicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-617
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Critical nanoscale design parameters
  • Dendrimers
  • Drug delivery
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoperiodic concept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Emerging concepts in dendrimer-based nanomedicine: From design principles to clinical applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this