Theranostics 2019; 9(25):7714-7729. doi:10.7150/thno.34421


Screening for new macrophage therapeutics

Christopher B. Rodell1, Peter D. Koch1,2, Ralph Weissleder1,2✉

1. Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 185 Cambridge St, CPZN 5206, Boston, MA 02114,
2. Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115

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Rodell CB, Koch PD, Weissleder R. Screening for new macrophage therapeutics. Theranostics 2019; 9(25):7714-7729. doi:10.7150/thno.34421. Available from

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Myeloid derived macrophages play a key role in many human diseases, and their therapeutic modulation via pharmacological means is receiving considerable attention. Of particular interest is the fact that these cells are i) dynamic phenotypes well suited to therapeutic manipulation and ii) phagocytic, allowing them to be efficiently targeted with nanoformulations. However, it is important to consider that macrophages represent heterogeneous populations of subtypes with often competing biological behaviors and functions. In order to develop next generation therapeutics, it is therefore essential to screen for biological effects through a combination of in vitro and in vivo assays. Here, we review the state-of-the-art techniques, including both cell based screens and in vivo imaging tools that have been developed for assessment of macrophage phenotype. We conclude with a forward-looking perspective on the growing need for noninvasive macrophage assessment and laboratory assays to be put into clinical practice and the potential broader impact of myeloid-targeted therapeutics.

Keywords: macrophage therapeutics, screening