Nanotheranostics 2017; 1(1):114-130. doi:10.7150/ntno.18292 This issue


Heparin-Regulated Prodrug-Type Macromolecular Theranostic Systems for Cancer Therapy

Huiyuan Wang1, Cheol Moon2, Meong Cheol Shin3, Yaping Wang1,4, Huining He4, Victor C. Yang4,5, Yongzhuo Huang1✉

1. Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201203, China
2. College of Pharmacy, Sunchon National University, Republic of Korea
3. College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Gyeongsang National University, Gyeongnam, Republic of Korea
4. Tianjin Key Laboratory on Technologies Enabling Development of Clinical Therapeutics and Diagnosis, School of Pharmacy, Tianjin Medical University Tianjin 300070, China
5. University of Michigan, College of Pharmacy, MI 48109-1065, USA

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Wang H, Moon C, Shin MC, Wang Y, He H, Yang VC, Huang Y. Heparin-Regulated Prodrug-Type Macromolecular Theranostic Systems for Cancer Therapy. Nanotheranostics 2017; 1(1):114-130. doi:10.7150/ntno.18292. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Heparin is a kind of naturally occurring polymer with excellent biocompatibility and solubility. It is characterized by dense of negative charge, higher than any endogenous components. Heparin can bind with various cationic peptides and proteins, thereby providing a useful noncovalent linkage for building a drug delivery system. As a case in point, heparin/cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) interaction is strong, and remains stable in vivo. They can be used to modify different proteins, respectively, and subsequently, by simply mixing the modified proteins, a protein-protein conjugate can be form via the stable heparin/CPP linkage. This linkage could not be broken unless addition of protamine that bears higher cationic charge density than CPP, and CPP thus can be substituted and released. Of note, heparin is a potent antagonist of CPP, and their binding naturally inhibits CPP-mediated drug cell penetration. Based on this method, we developed a heparin-regulated macromolecular prodrug-type system, termed ATTEMPTS, for drug targeting delivery. In this review article, we mainly summary the application of ATTEMPTS in delivery of various macromolecular drugs for cancer therapy, and also introduce the heparin-regulated nanoprobes for tumor imaging.

Keywords: Heparin, heparin-regulated macromolecular prodrug-type system, drug targeting delivery