Drug delivery of natural products through nanocarriers for effective breast cancer therapy: A comprehensive review of literature

Kah Min Yap, Mahendran Sekar, Shivkanya Fuloria, Yuan Seng Wu, Siew Hua Gan, Nur Najihah Izzati Mat Rani, Vetriselvan Subramaniyan, Chandrakant Kokare, Pei Teng Lum, M Yasmin Begum, Shankar Mani, Dhanalekshmi Unnikrishnan Meenakshi, Kathiresan V Sathasivam, Neeraj Kumar Fuloria

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Despite recent advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer (BC), it remains a global health issue affecting millions of women annually. Poor prognosis in BC patients is often linked to drug resistance as well as the lack of effective therapeutic options for metastatic and triple-negative BC. In response to these unmet needs, extensive research efforts have been devoted to exploring the anti-BC potentials of natural products owing to their multi-target mechanisms of action and good safety profiles. Various medicinal plant extracts/essential oils and natural bioactive compounds have demonstrated anti-cancer activities in preclinical BC models. Despite the promising preclinical results, however, the clinical translation of natural products has often been hindered by their poor stability, aqueous solubility and bioavailability. There have been attempts to overcome these limitations, particularly via the use of nano-based drug delivery systems (NDDSs). This review highlights the tumour targeting mechanisms of NDDSs, the advantages and disadvantages of the major classes of NDDSs and their current clinical status in BC treatment. Besides, it also discusses the proposed anti-BC mechanisms and nanoformulations of nine medicinal plants' extracts/essential oils and nine natural bioactive compounds; selected via the screening of various scientific databases, including PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar, based on the following keywords: "Natural Product AND Nanoparticle AND Breast Cancer". Overall, these nanoformulations exhibit improved anti-cancer efficacy against preclinical BC models, with some demonstrating biocompatibility with normal cell lines and mouse models. Further clinical studies are, however, warranted to ascertain their efficacy and biocompatibility in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7891-7941
Number of pages51
JournalInternational Journal of Nanomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • breast cancer
  • drug delivery
  • molecular mechanisms
  • nanoparticles
  • natural products
  • phytomedicine

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