Theranostics 2021; 11(15):7546-7569. doi:10.7150/thno.56482


Recent strategies for nano-based PTT combined with immunotherapy: from a biomaterial point of view

Xingyue Huang, Yang Lu, Mingxue Guo, Shouying Du, Ning Han

School of Chinese Materia Medica, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 102488, China.

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Huang X, Lu Y, Guo M, Du S, Han N. Recent strategies for nano-based PTT combined with immunotherapy: from a biomaterial point of view. Theranostics 2021; 11(15):7546-7569. doi:10.7150/thno.56482. Available from

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Cancer has been a great threat to humans for decades. Due to the limitations of monotherapy, combinational therapies such as photothermal therapy (PTT) and immunotherapy have gained increasing attention with expectation to overcome the shortfalls of each other and obtain satisfactory therapeutic outcomes. PTT can inhibit primary tumors by thermal ablation but usually fails to achieve complete eradication and cannot prevent metastasis and recurrence. Meanwhile, the efficacy of immunotherapy is usually attenuated by the weak immunogenicity of tumor and the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (ITM). Therefore, many recent studies have attempted to synergize PTT with immunotherapy in order to enhance the therapeutic efficacy. In this review, we aim to summarize the cutting-edge strategies in combining nano-based PTT with immunotherapy for cancer treatment. Herein, the combination strategies were mainly classified into four categories, including 1) nano-based PTT combined with antigens to induce host immune responses; 2) nano-based PTT in combination with immune adjuvants acting as in situ vaccines; 3) nano-based PTT synergized with immune checkpoint blockade or other regulators to relieve the ITM; 4) nano-based PTT combined with CAR-T therapy or cytokine therapy for tumor treatment. The characteristics of various photothermal agents and nanoplatforms as well as the immunological mechanisms for the synergism were also introduced in detail. Finally, we discussed the existing challenges and future prospects in combined PTT and immunotherapy.

Keywords: photothermal therapy, immunotherapy, combination therapy, nanoplatforms, cancer