Glycolipid-based nanosystems for the delivery of drugs, genes and vaccine adjuvant applications
The application of nanotechnology for cellular delivery of drugs, macromolecules and DNA therapeutics, clearly offers new opportunities in the treatment of the major health threats including cancer, infections, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and inflammations. The main challenge of today's nanotechnology is probably to develop systems that allow real progress to achieve high protection of the active ingredient and spatial site-specific delivery. Glycolipids are amphiphilic molecules that could fulfill these conditions by improving the physical properties of the nanocarriers and facilitating cell/tissue specific targeting through carbohydrate-cell protein interactions. Glycolipids designed for this purpose should, however, possess some general features allowing specific and high affinity with the targeted cells as well as easy incorporation into the drug carriers. The aim of this chapter is to present the most recent accomplishments in the field of nanosystems containing glycolipids as drug/gene delivery systems and adjuvants for vaccine applications, with a special attention to the role of the carbohydrate moieties in these novel nanotherapeutic strategies.