Ferritin – a multifaceted protein scaffold for biotherapeutics

Na Kyeong Lee, Seongeon Cho, In San Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The ferritin nanocage is an endogenous protein that exists in almost all mammals. Its hollow spherical structure that naturally stores iron ions has been diversely exploited by researchers in biotherapeutics. Ferritin has excellent biosafety profiles, and the nanosized particles exhibit rapid dispersion and controlled/sustained release pharmacokinetics. Moreover, the large surface-to-volume ratio and the disassembly/reassembly behavior of the 24 monomer subunits into a sphere allow diverse modifications by chemical and genetic methods on the surface and inner cage of ferritin. Here, we critically review ferritin and its applications. We (i) introduce the application of ferritin in drug delivery; (ii) present an overview of the use of ferritin in imaging and diagnosis for biomedical purposes; (iii) discuss ferritin-based vaccines; and (iv) review ferritin-based agents currently in clinical trials. Although there are no currently approved drugs based on ferritin, this multifunctional protein scaffold shows immense potential in drug development in diverse categories, and ferritin-based drugs have recently entered phase I clinical trials. This golden shortlist of recent developments will be of immediate benefit and interest to researchers studying ferritin and other protein-based biotherapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1652-1657
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental and Molecular Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science (No. 2017R1A3B1023418, 2021R1A6A3A01088199) and the National Cancer Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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