Pancreatic cancer represents the 10th most common cause of new cancer and ranks fourth among cancer-related deaths in the United States. The failure in pancreatic cancer treatment is main due to the presence of a dense and poorly vascularized stroma that increase the drug clearance in the tumors rather than the healthy tissues, decreasing drug bioavailability in the target tissue and leading to significant side effects.
Passive targeting nanomedicines are not enough to improve the drug accumulation at the tumor target site for the high hypovascularization level.
Moreover, the pancreatic cancer is composed of several distinct elements, including pancreatic-cancer cells, pancreatic cancer stem cells, and the tumor stroma contains a mixture of interacting cellular and non cellular elements. The extracellular leaflet of the plasma membrane is not characterized by unique molecular targets but by overexpressed antigens that are relatively down regulated in healthy cells.
Due to these physiopathological complexity and heterogeneously, one of the major requirements for a successful therapy is the design of a multifunctional nanomedicines that is able to selectively attack specific markers from tumor and stroma cells.