The field of nanotherapeutics is the application of nanotechnology to medicine and drug development.
Dendrimers, discovered in the early 1980s are radially symmetric molecules with homogenous and monodisperse structure (molecules of uniform size) consisting of tree-like arms or branches. Rather than a compound, dendrimer is an architectural motif. Dendrimers are hyperbranched macromolecules with tailored architecture with end-groups that can be functionalized to change their physiochemical or biological properties. They hold potential for anticancer therapies, diagnostic imaging and as nano-scale delivery devices.
Due to their step-by-step controlled synthesis dendrimers relate to molecular chemistry and their repetitive structure composed of monomers relates to polymer chemistry. Dendrimers can be synthesized using a divergent approach, which begins with the core and then arms are attached by the addition of building blocks in a step-wise manner. The newer convergent approach begins synthesis from the exterior. Using this strategy, the final generation number is pre-determined. Dendrimers can also be self-assembling.
For biomedical applications dendrimers can be modified to form antibody-dendrimer or peptide-dendrimer conjugates or dendritic boxes to encapsulate desired molecules. Drug-dendrimer conjugates show high solubility, reduced toxicity and selective accumulation in solid tumors. Drug molecules, genetic material, targeting agents or dyes can be encapsulated, complexed with or conjugated to dendrimers. Dendrimer-based metal chelates act as contrast agents for magnetic imaging. Sensor molecules or photosensitizing agents can be attached to dentrimers.