Use of cells as therapeutic carriers has increased in the past few years and has developed as a distinct concept and delivery method. Cell-based vehicles are particularly attractive for delivery of biotherapeutic agents that are difficult to synthesize, have reduced half-lives, limited tissue penetrance or are rapidly inactivated upon direct in vivo introduction. Initial studies using cell-based approaches served to identify some of the key factors for the success of this type of therapeutic delivery. These factors include the efficiency of cell loading with a therapeutic payload, the means of cell loading and the nature of therapeutics that cells can carry. However, one important aspect of cell-based delivery yet to be fully investigated is the process of actual delivery of the cell payload in vivo. In this regard, the potential ability of cell carriers to provide site-specific or targeted delivery of therapeutics deserves special attention. The present review focuses on a variety of targeting approaches that may be utilized to improve cell-based therapeutic delivery strategies. The different aspects of targeting that can be applied to cell vehicles will be discussed, including physical methods for directing cell distribution, intrinsic cell-mediated homing mechanisms and the feasibility of engineering cells with novel targeting mechanisms. Development of cell targeting strategies will further advance cell vehicle applications, broaden the applicability of this delivery approach and potentiate therapeutic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-729
Number of pages14
JournalGene therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2008


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