Pancreatic cancer is one of the most malignant tumors with one of the worst survival rates due to its insidious onset and resistance to therapies. Most therapeutics show a desired anticancer effect in vitro; however, very poor efficacy in vivo because of the limited drug delivery and penetration into pancreatic tumors attributed to the abundance of the tumor stroma, ie, the fibrotic tumor microenvironment surrounding the cancer cells. For a better understanding of the challenges posed by the pancreatic tumor stroma, we outline the key features of the tumor microenvironment. Then we highlight major strategies used to tackle the challenges to improve drug penetration into the tumor and achieve enhanced efficacy (pre)clinically. Furthermore, we describe nanomedicine strategies to modulate the tumor stroma, degrade the extracellular matrix, and co-deliver multi-functional drugs, to improve the chemotherapeutics delivery and penetration into pancreatic tumors.
- Cancer-associated fibroblasts
- Drug penetration
- Drug perfusion
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
- Tumor stroma
- Tumor vasculature