Nanomaterials as Precision Vectors for Cancer Diagnosis, Control and Treatment
Cancers are organoid ecosystems composed by genetically modified cells, which interact with a variety of host cells, such as fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes, and endothelial cells among others, in niches distributed in the organism. The disease emerges from the interactions of those cells with each other, generating increasingly complex systems that compete with the normal host cells for resources, through modified homeostatic mechanisms. In contrast with communicable diseases such as infections, cancers are a diseased state of the self. This notion narrows the pharmacological index of most used drugs to defeat cancer, as they frequently affect normally dividing cells as well. Another important feature of cancers derives from their genetic instability, which favors cascade accumulation of mutations and development of tumors with stochastic distribution of mutated cells within the very same organ, depending on the unique microenvironment created in each one. Nowadays, cancers are only detectable clinically when the tumor cell population is around 109 cells, a milestone reached one or two decades after the very first mutation took place in a given cell. Therefore, complexity also emerges from the interaction of different tumor cell populations, which compete for resources but also cooperate along tumor progression.