Engineering protein self-assembling in protein-based nanomedicines for drug delivery and gene therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 Informa Healthcare USA, Inc. Lack of targeting and improper biodistribution are major flaws in current drug-based therapies that prevent reaching high local concentrations of the therapeutic agent. Such weaknesses impose the administration of high drug doses, resulting in undesired side effects, limited efficacy and enhanced production costs. Currently, missing nanosized containers, functionalized for specific cell targeting will be then highly convenient for the controlled delivery of both conventional and innovative drugs. In an attempt to fill this gap, health-focused nanotechnologies have put under screening a growing spectrum of materials as potential components of nanocages, whose properties can be tuned during fabrication. However, most of these materials pose severe biocompatibility concerns. We review in this study how proteins, the most versatile functional macromolecules, can be conveniently exploited and adapted by conventional genetic engineering as efficient building blocks of fully compatible nanoparticles for drug delivery and how selected biological activities can be recruited to mimic viral behavior during infection. Although engineering of protein self-assembling is still excluded from fully rational approaches, the exploitation of protein nano-assemblies occurring in nature and the direct manipulation of protein-protein contacts in bioinspired constructs open intriguing possibilities for further development. These methodologies empower the construction of new and potent vehicles that offer promise as true artificial viruses for efficient and safe nanomedical applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-221
JournalCritical Reviews in Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Drug delivery
  • Nanomedicine
  • Nanoparticles
  • Non-viral gene therapy
  • Protein engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Engineering protein self-assembling in protein-based nanomedicines for drug delivery and gene therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this