Andrade F, Roca-Melendres MM, Duran-Lara EF, Rafael D, Schwartz S Jr

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 9;13(5). pii: cancers13051164. doi: 10.3390/cancers13051164.


Cancer remains as the second leading cause of death, worldwide. Despite the enormous important advances observed in the last decades, advanced stages of the disease remain incurable. The severe side effects associated to systemic high doses of chemotherapy and the development of drug resistance impairs a safe and efficiency anticancer therapy. Therefore, new formulations are continuously under research and development to improve anticancer drugs therapeutic index through localized delivery at tumor sites. Among a wide range of possibilities, hydrogels have recently gained special attention due to their potential to allow in situ sustained and controlled anticancer drug release. In particular, stimuli-responsive hydrogels which are able to change their physical state from liquid to gel accordingly to external factors such as temperature, pH, light, ionic strength, and magnetic field, among others. Some of these formulations presented promising results for the localized control and treatment of cancer. The present work aims to discuss the main properties and application of stimuli-responsive hydrogels in cancer treatment and summarize the most important advances observed in the last decades focusing on the use of pH-, light-, ionic strength-, and magnetic-responsive hydrogels.