Research Article: Metal–Organic Framework‐Based Stimuli‐Responsive Systems for Drug Delivery

Date Published: November 20, 2018

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Author(s): Wen Cai, Junqing Wang, Chengchao Chu, Wei Chen, Chunsheng Wu, Gang Liu.


With the rapid development of nanotechnology, stimuli‐responsive nanomaterials have provided an alternative for designing controllable drug delivery systems due to their spatiotemporally controllable properties. As a new type of porous material, metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) have been widely used in biomedical applications, especially drug delivery systems, owing to their tunable pore size, high surface area and pore volume, and easy surface modification. Here, recent progress in MOF‐based stimuli‐responsive systems is presented, including pH‐, magnetic‐, ion‐, temperature‐, pressure‐, light‐, humidity‐, redox‐, and multiple stimuli‐responsive systems for the delivery of anticancer drugs. The remaining challenges and suggestions for future directions for the rational design of MOF‐based nanomedicines are also discussed.

Partial Text

Smart materials have recently attracted much attention in the field of biomedicine.1 In particular, the development of nanotechnology has resulted in much progress in stimuli‐responsive drug delivery systems. Triggers from inside (e.g., internal cues in the cancer microenvironment) and outside (external stimuli) the body provide spatially and temporally controllable characteristics to release the drugs encapsulated in these systems.2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Due to the complexity of the environment in the human body, improving the therapeutic efficacy of drug delivery systems usually requires it to be responsive to multiple triggers rather than a single stimulus. Thus, multiple stimuli‐responsive systems based on MOFs have been developed to achieve more precise cancer therapies.

Recently, the use of stimuli‐responsive systems as drug carriers for on‐demand drug release has gained increasing attention around the world, and these systems show great potential for cancer therapy. Stimuli‐responsive NMOFs, a new class of stimuli‐responsive materials, demonstrate great potential in overcoming the limitations and drawbacks of conventional drug delivery systems for controllable spatiotemporal drug release to achieve good therapeutic efficacy (summarized in Table1).

As a new class of porous materials, MOFs have the advantages of high drug loading capacities, easy functionalization, and good biocompatibility. Thus, a variety of MOF‐based stimuli‐responsive drug delivery systems have been reported and considerable achievements have been made in recent years. However, more work is required to develop multifunctional MOF‐based stimuli‐responsive drug delivery systems. Most importantly, more investigations on their toxicity after long‐term use and in vivo research with these systems should be conducted to determine possible side effects before their clinical translation. In conclusion, the development of MOF‐based stimuli‐responsive drug delivery systems with low toxicity, biodegradability, and high therapeutic efficacy is a promising research direction, but there is still a long way to go before their clinical application.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.




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