Design of Organic Macrocycle-Modified Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery

Tina Skorjanc, Farah Benyettou, John Carl Olsen, Ali Trabolsi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Paul Ehrlich's vision of a “magic bullet” cure for disease inspires the modern design of nanocarriers whose purpose is to deliver drug cargo to specific sites in the body while circumventing endogenous immunological clearance mechanisms. Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) have emerged as particularly promising nanocarriers because of their biodegradability, ability to be guided magnetically to sites of pathology, mediation of hyperthermic therapy, and imaging capabilities. In this review, we focus on the design and drug-delivery aspects of IONPs coated with organic macrocycles (crown ethers, cyclodextrins, calix[n]arenes, cucurbit[n]urils, or pillar[n]arenes), which, by means of reversible complexation, allow for the convenient loading and release of drug molecules. Macrocycles can be attached to IONPs indirectly or directly. Indirect attachment requires the use of small organic linking molecules or conjugation to shell materials. Direct attachment requires neither. We discuss in detail drug release from the macrocycles, highlighting mechanisms that depend on external stimuli such as changes in pH, the competitive binding of ions or small molecules, or the application of ultrasound or electromagnetic radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8333-8347
Number of pages15
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number35
StatePublished - Jun 22 2017


  • binding modes
  • drug delivery
  • drug release
  • iron oxide nanoparticles
  • organic macrocycles
  • supramolecular interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry


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