Vaccines and immunotherapies have provided enormous improvements for public health, but there are fundamental disconnects between where most studies are performed—in cell culture and animal models—and the ultimate application in humans. Engineering immune tissues and organs, such as bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes and spleen, could be instrumental in overcoming these hurdles. Fundamentally, designed immune tissues could serve as in vitro tools to more accurately study human immune function and disease, while immune tissues engineered for implantation as next-generation vaccines or immunotherapies could enable direct, on-demand control over generation and regulation of immune function. In this Review, we discuss recent interdisciplinary strategies that are merging materials science and immunology to create engineered immune tissues in vitro and in vivo. We also highlight the hurdles facing these approaches and the need for comparison to existing clinical options, relevant animal models, and other emerging technologies.
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This work was supported in part by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs grant no. 1I01BX003690, NIH grant no. R01EB026896, NSF CAREER grant no. 1351688, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society grant no. RG-1501-02968, NIH grant no. 1R01AI062765, NIH grant no. 1R01AI114496, the Damon Runyon Foundation grant no. DRR3415, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation grant no. 2-SRA-2016-319-S-B. H.B.E. is a trainee of the NIH T32 Training Program in Cell and Molecular Biology (T32GM080201). C.M.J. is a young investigator of the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (grant no. 15051543) and the Melanoma Research Alliance (grant no. 348963).
The authors declare no competing interests. The content in this review do not reflect the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.
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Gosselin, E.A., Eppler, H.B., Bromberg, J.S. et al. Designing natural and synthetic immune tissues. Nature Mater 17, 484–498 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-018-0077-6
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