Immunostimulatory biomaterials to boost tumor immunogenicity
Cancer immunotherapy is exhibiting great promise as a new therapeutic modality for cancer treatment. However, immunotherapies are limited by the inability of some tumors to provoke an immune response. These tumors with a ‘cold’ immunological phenotype are characterized by low numbers of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, high numbers of immunosuppressive leukocytes (e.g. regulatory T cells, tumor-associated macrophages), and high production of immune-dampening signals (e.g. IL-10, TGF-β, IDO-1). Strategies to boost the aptitude of tumors to initiate an immune response (i.e. boost tumor immunogenicity) will turn ‘cold’ tumors ‘hot’ and augment the anti-tumor efficacy of current immunotherapies. Approaches to boost tumor immunogenicity already show promise; however, multifaceted delivery and immunobiology challenges exist. For instance, systemic delivery of many immune-stimulating agents causes off-target toxicity and/or the development of autoimmunity, limiting the administrable dose below the threshold needed to achieve efficacy. Moreover, once administered in vivo, molecules such as the nucleic acid-based agonists for many pattern recognition receptors are either rapidly cleared or degraded, and don't efficiently traffic to the intracellular compartments where the receptors are located. Thus, these nucleic acid-based drugs are ineffective without a delivery system. Biomaterials-based approaches aim to enhance current strategies to boost tumor immunogenicity, enable novel strategies, and spare dose-limiting toxicities. Here, we review recent progress to improve cancer immunotherapies by boosting immunogenicity within tumors using immunostimulatory biomaterials.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Biomaterials Science Emerging Investigators 2021