Ferritin-based nanoplatforms for imaging and drug delivery

Ferritin is an iron storage protein that is found in most living organisms including human beings. Each ferritin molecule is composed of 24 subunits, which self-assemble to form a cage-like nanostructure, with external and internal diameters of 12 and 8 nm, respectively. In nature, the interiors of ferritins are filled with iron. When expressed artificially in iron-free conditions, the yielded apoferritins are hollow, providing a cavity that can be loaded with different species. These include metals, drug molecules, and photosensitizers such as ZnF16Pc. In addition, the surface of ferritins can be modified, either chemically or genetically, to introduce functional ligands. These unique features make ferritins a powerful a platform that can be harnessed to construct multifunctional agents for imaging and therapy purposes.

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