Theranostics 2019; 9(26):7981-8000. doi:10.7150/thno.37568 This issue


Engineering Nanoparticles to Reprogram the Tumor Immune Microenvironment for Improved Cancer Immunotherapy

Madiha Saeed1, Jing Gao1, Yang Shi2, Twan Lammers2,3,4, Haijun Yu1,5✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Drug Research & Center of Pharmaceutics, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201203, China.
2. Department of Nanomedicine and Theranostics, Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen and Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany.
3. Department of Pharmaceutics, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands.
4. Department of Targeted Therapeutics, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands.
5. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.

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Saeed M, Gao J, Shi Y, Lammers T, Yu H. Engineering Nanoparticles to Reprogram the Tumor Immune Microenvironment for Improved Cancer Immunotherapy. Theranostics 2019; 9(26):7981-8000. doi:10.7150/thno.37568. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Immunotherapy is rapidly maturing towards extensive clinical use. However, it does not work well in large patient populations because of an immunosuppressed microenvironment and limited reinvigoration of antitumor immunity. The tumor microenvironment is a complex milieu in which the principles of physiology and anatomy are defied and which is considered an immune-privileged site promoting T cell exhaustion. Tremendous research interest exists in developing nanoparticle-based approaches to modulate antitumor immune responses. The increasing use of immunotherapies in the clinic requires robust programming of immune cells to boost antitumor immunity. This review summarizes recent advances in the engineering of nanoparticles for improved anticancer immunotherapy. It discusses emerging nanoparticle-based approaches for the modulation of tumor cells and immune cells, such as dendritic cells, T cells and tumor-associated macrophages, with the intention to overcome challenges currently faced in the clinic. Furthermore, this review describes potentially curative combination therapeutic approaches to provoke effective tumor antigen-specific immune responses. We foresee a future in which improvement in patient's surveillance will become a mainstream practice.

Keywords: Cancer immunotherapy, nanoparticles, immune microenvironment programming, antitumor immune response.