Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles for Selective Destruction of Tumor Cells and Potential for Drug Delivery Applications

Document Type


Publication Date





Importance of the field: Metal oxide nanoparticles, including zinc oxide, are versatile platforms for biomedical applications and therapeutic intervention. There is an urgent need to develop new classes of anticancer agents, and recent studies demonstrate that ZnO nanomaterials hold considerable promise.

Areas covered in this review: This review analyzes the biomedical applications of metal oxide and ZnO nanomaterials under development at the experimental, preclinical, and clinical levels. A discussion regarding the advantages, approaches, and limitations surrounding the use of metal oxide nanoparticles for cancer applications and drug delivery is presented. The scope of this article is focused on ZnO, and other metal oxide nanomaterial systems, and their proposed mechanisms of cytotoxic action, as well as current approaches to improve their targeting and cytotoxicity against cancer cells.

Take home message: Through a better understanding of the mechanisms of action and cellular consequences resulting from nanoparticles interactions with cells, the inherent toxicity and selectivity of ZnO nanoparticles against cancer may be further improved to make them attractive new anti-cancer agents.

Copyright Statement

This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery, published by Informa Healthcare. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1517/17425247.2010.502560