Theranostics 2020; 10(1):281-299. doi:10.7150/thno.35568 This issue


RNA Nanotechnology-Mediated Cancer Immunotherapy

Yao-Xin Lin1*, Yi Wang1,2,4*, Sara Blake1,5, Mian Yu3, Lin Mei3✉, Hao Wang2,4✉, Jinjun Shi1✉

1. Center for Nanomedicine and Department of Anesthesiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2. CAS Center for Excellence in Nanoscience, CAS Key Laboratory for Biomedical Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Beijing 100190, China
3. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Shenzhen), Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510006, China
4. Center of Materials Science and Optoelectronics Engineering, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
5. Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Lin YX, Wang Y, Blake S, Yu M, Mei L, Wang H, Shi J. RNA Nanotechnology-Mediated Cancer Immunotherapy. Theranostics 2020; 10(1):281-299. doi:10.7150/thno.35568. Available from

File import instruction


Graphic abstract

RNA molecules (e.g., siRNA, microRNA, and mRNA) have shown tremendous potential for immunomodulation and cancer immunotherapy. They can activate both innate and adaptive immune system responses by silencing or upregulating immune-relevant genes. In addition, mRNA-based vaccines have recently been actively pursued and tested in cancer patients, as a form of treatment. Meanwhile, various nanomaterials have been developed to enhance RNA delivery to the tumor and immune cells. In this review article, we summarize recent advances in the development of RNA-based therapeutics and their applications in cancer immunotherapy. We also highlight the variety of nanoparticle platforms that have been used for RNA delivery to elicit anti-tumor immune responses. Finally, we provide our perspectives of potential challenges and opportunities of RNA-based nanotherapeutics in clinical translation towards cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: RNA, nanoparticle, immunotherapy, cancer, RNAi, CRISPR