Albumin-based drug delivery: harnessing nature to cure disease

  • Maja Larsen
  • Matthias Kuhlmann
  • Michael Hvam
  • Kenneth Howard
Keywords: human serum albumin (HSA), Drugs, Albumin-binding, Albumin fusions, Half-life extension, intracellular delivery, Neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn), Molecular medicine, Targeted drug delivery


The effectiveness of a drug is dependent on accumulation at the site of action at therapeutic levels, however,
challenges such as rapid renal clearance, degradation or non-specific accumulation requires drug delivery
enabling technologies. Albumin is a natural transport protein with multiple ligand binding sites, cellular
receptor engagement, and a long circulatory half-life due to interaction with the recycling neonatal Fc
receptor. Exploitation of these properties promotes albumin as an attractive candidate for half-life extension
and targeted intracellular delivery of drugs attached by covalent conjugation, genetic fusions, association or
ligand-mediated association. This review will give an overview of albumin-based products with focus on the
natural biological properties and molecular interactions that can be harnessed for the design of a next-generation drug
delivery platform.


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