Affiliation: Laboratorio de Sistemas Glicodendríticos, Grupo de Carbohidratos, Instituto de Investigaciones Quimicas, CSIC, Isla de la Cartuja, Americo Vespucio 49, Seville 41092 Spain.
Nearly 3 decades ago, a dendritic structure was stepwise synthesized for the first time as a new type of molecules with promising applications. During years a huge effort has been devoted to implement the synthetic skills concerning the synthesis of these molecules and especially, new methods for purification and characterization of these compounds that are in the nanoscale range. The chemical manipulation of the surface and inner core of dendrimers were strategically used to allow a tailor-made control of physical-chemical properties and to discover new applications in material science and biomedicine. Although several examples have been reported in the literature describing applications of functionalized dendrimers and acclaiming a key role of these molecules, very scarce examples are actually close to the market. This review summarizes the state of the art of dendrimers and dendritic polymers as anti-infective agents, with a special focus on the strategies to block receptors used by pathogens for attachment, cell entry and dissemination. These nanometre size molecules are very attractive compounds as new drugs easily to be manipulated to improve their activity and scope. This is already a very active area of research, where we are involved, with interesting potential as demonstrated by the Phase I clinical trial of a functionalized dendrimer with real possibilities to reach the market soon. The success of this compound should provoke an enormous stimulus to scientists working in this area as well as in the industrial companies for investment in this topic.