Particulate carrier systems as adjuvants for cancer vaccines
To overcome the immunosuppressive milieu of malignancy and lack of well-defined antigens, potent adjuvants are needed for cancer immunotherapy. Numerous small molecular immunomodulators have the potential to fulfill this role. To enhance the immune response and decrease the toxicity, particulate systems including nanoparticles and macroparticles have been increasingly proposed as carriers for cancer antigen and adjuvant delivery. These systems have the potential to co-deliver the antigens and adjuvants simultaneously in the same particle. In addition, the particles can be engineered for localized and targeted delivery, whether it be to the cellular or sub-cellular level. These properties limit systemic side effects and improve delivery efficiency, and thus enhance the vaccine's immune response. In particular, the particles can be constructed to mimic the size and surface patterns of microbes, organisms to which we have evolved a strong immune response. The release characteristics of the particles can likewise be controlled to simulate the body's response to infections. Boosting the immune response of vaccines by virtue of their intrinsic immunostimulatory properties, these particles can be dosing-sparing and have the potential to reduce production cost of vaccines. As the interest in personalized cancer vaccines increases with their encouraging outcomes in clinical trials, particulate carrier systems have the potential to play an important role in optimizing cancer vaccines.