NANOMATERIALS, vol.11, no.7, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation of cells that can initiate, self-renew, and sustain tumor growth. CSCs are responsible for tumor metastasis, recurrence, and drug resistance in cancer therapy. CSCs reside within a niche maintained by multiple unique factors in the microenvironment. These factors include hypoxia, excessive levels of angiogenesis, a change of mitochondrial activity from aerobic aspiration to aerobic glycolysis, an upregulated expression of CSC biomarkers and stem cell signaling, and an elevated synthesis of the cytochromes P450 family of enzymes responsible for drug clearance. Antibodies and ligands targeting the unique factors that maintain the niche are utilized for the delivery of anticancer therapeutics to CSCs. In this regard, nanomaterials, specifically nanoparticles (NPs), are extremely useful as carriers for the delivery of anticancer agents to CSCs. This review covers the biology of CSCs and advances in the design and synthesis of NPs as a carrier in targeting cancer drugs to the CSC subpopulation of cancer cells. This review includes the development of synthetic and natural polymeric NPs, lipid NPs, inorganic NPs, self-assembling protein NPs, antibody-drug conjugates, and extracellular nanovesicles for CSC targeting.