Opinion | Published:

Synthetic immune niches for cancer immunotherapy

Nature Reviews Immunology volume 18, pages 212219 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Cancer immunotherapy can successfully promote long-term anticancer immune responses, although there is still only a limited number of patients who benefit from such treatment, and it can sometimes have severe treatment-associated adverse events. Compared with systemic immunomodulation, local immunomodulation may enable more effective treatment at lower doses and, at the same time, prevent systemic toxicity. Local delivery of engineered three-dimensional scaffolds may fulfil this role by acting as synthetic immune niches that boost anticancer immunity. In this Opinion article, we highlight the potential of scaffold-based adoptive cell transfer and scaffold-based cancer vaccines that, although applied locally, can promote systemic antitumour immunity. Furthermore, we discuss how scaffold-based cancer immunotherapy may contribute to the development of the next generation of cancer treatments.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank A.B. van Spriel for critically reviewing the manuscript. This work was supported by the Institute of Chemical Immunology (grant 024.002.009). C.G.F. is a recipient of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Spinoza Prize, the European Research Council advanced grant PATHFINDER (269019) and KWO grant 2009–4402 of the Dutch Cancer Society.

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Affiliations

  1. Jorieke Weiden and Carl G. Figdor are at the Department of Tumor Immunology, Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Medical Center, Geert Grooteplein 26, 6525 GA, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

    • Jorieke Weiden
    •  & Carl G. Figdor
  2. Jurjen Tel is at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Laboratory of Immunoengineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5600 MB, Eindhoven, the Netherlands; and at the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5600 MB, Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

    • Jurjen Tel

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Contributions

C.G.F., J.W. and J.T. contributed equally to researching the data for the article, to discussing the content and to reviewing and editing the manuscript before submission. J.W. was responsible for writing the article.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carl G. Figdor.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2017.89