The first clinical success of immunotherapeutics for cancer treatment and the appreciation that tissue regeneration can be greatly improved by precisely and locally modulating the immune response are evidence that immunotherapy is poised to revolutionize the way we treat disease.
The field of immunoengineering is progressing at high speed, and materials science greatly contributes to this progress by providing smart and controllable tools for immunotherapy with the aim to improve clinical outcomes. In this focus issue, we explore materials science strategies and opportunities for cancer immunotherapy and for modulating the immune system in autoimmune diseases and tissue regeneration.
Engineering immune cells and organs using materials enables the investigation of immune responses and the development of immunotherapies. In this Review, the authors discuss 2D and 3D approaches to recreate key cell-level, tissue-level and organ-level immune functionalities of primary, secondary and tertiary lymphoid organs.
Macroscale delivery devices can be used to manipulate innate and adaptive immune responses. In this Review, the authors highlight important cellular targets of immunotherapies in tissue repair and cancer and discuss macroscale biomaterials strategies for therapeutic immunomodulation.
Cancer nanomedicine in combination with immunotherapies offers the possibility to amplify antitumour immune responses and to sensitize tumours to immunotherapies. In this Review, the authors discuss combination immunotherapy based on nanoparticle platforms designed for chemotherapy, photothermal therapy, photodynamic therapy, radiotherapy and gene therapy.
Nanoscale and microscale materials can be used as drug delivery vehicles to target specific lymph node-resident cell subtypes for immunotherapy. In this Review, the authors discuss the transport mechanisms to and from lymph nodes and how they can be explored for drug delivery.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the destruction of pancreatic β-cells, which results in an insulin deficiency. In this Review, the authors discuss immunomodulatory biomaterials for β-cell replacement and for the induction of tolerogenic immune responses to prevent, delay or reverse the disease.
Nucleic acid scaffolds can be precisely interfaced with cellular components, making them interesting materials to probe and program immune cells. In this Perspective, the authors explore nucleic acid technologies for the quantitative detection of single immune cells and for modulating the immune response.
Intelligent design of materials for biomedical applications involves the development of technologies that are informed by an understanding of biological systems. Immunoengineers have been making essential inroads in developing therapeutics endowed with designed biofunctionality, particularly in vaccinology, cancer immunotherapy and immune tolerance.