Immunotherapy is a promising treatment modality for cancer as it can promote specific and durable anti-cancer responses. However, limitations to current approaches remain. Therapeutics administered as soluble injections often require high doses and frequent re-dosing, which can result in systemic toxicities. Soluble bolus-based vaccine formulations typically elicit weak cellular immune responses, limiting their use for cancer. Current methods for ex vivo T cell expansion for adoptive T cell therapies are suboptimal, and achieving high T cell persistence and sustained functionality with limited systemic toxicity following transfer remains challenging. Biomaterials can play important roles in addressing some of these limitations. For example, nanomaterials can be employed as vehicles to deliver immune modulating payloads to specific tissues, cells, and cellular compartments with minimal off-target toxicity, or to co-deliver antigen and danger signal in therapeutic vaccine formulations. Alternatively, micro-to macroscale materials can be employed as devices for controlled molecular and cellular delivery, or as engineered microenvironments for recruiting and programming immune cells in situ. Recent work has demonstrated the potential for combining cancer immunotherapy and biomaterials, and the application of biomaterials to cancer immunotherapy is likely to enable the development of effective next-generation platforms. This review discusses the application of engineered materials for the delivery of immune modulating agents to the tumor microenvironment, therapeutic cancer vaccination, and adoptive T cell therapy.
Last updated on 09/29/2017
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