Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Thiopurines (mercaptopurine, azathioprine and thioguanine) are well-established maintenance treatments for a wide range of diseases such as leukemia, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in general. Worldwide, millions of patients are treated with thiopurines. The use of thiopurines has been limited because of off-target effects such as myelotoxicity and hepatotoxicity. Therefore, seeking methods to enhance target-based thiopurine-based treatment is relevant, combined with pharmacogenetic testing. Controlled-release formulations for thiopurines have been clinically tested and have shown promising outcomes in inflammatory bowel disease. Latest developments in nano-formulations for thiopurines have shown encouraging pre-clinical results, but further research and development are needed. This review provides an overview of novel drug delivery strategies for thiopurines, reviewing modified release formulations and with a focus on nano-based formulations.