Targeting dendritic cells with biomaterials: developing the next generation of vaccines

Trends Immunol. 2006 Dec;27(12):573-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Oct 16.


Current vaccine and immunotherapy technology faces ongoing challenges in both efficacy and practicality: many chronic diseases cannot yet be addressed by vaccination, and several vaccines that do function well require multiple injections, which is a substantial limitation in various parts of the world. A possible key to developing the next generation of vaccines is the ability to deliver antigen to dendritic cells (DCs) more specifically and induce the subsequent activation of T-cell immunity. However, antigen delivery to, and activation of, DCs is a complex problem, involving antigen transport to DC-rich areas, DC binding and antigen uptake, and antigen processing and presentation. Addressing these challenges requires novel and multidisciplinary approaches, for example, the application of biomaterials to immunotechnology. Here, we review the latest advances in biomaterial drug vehicles, such as polymer microparticles and nanoparticles, and liposomes, that are being used to target DCs in new strategies for vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antigens / pharmacology
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / pharmacology
  • Lymph Nodes / physiology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles / pharmacology
  • Polymers / pharmacology
  • Vaccines / chemistry*


  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic
  • Antigens
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Liposomes
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Polymers
  • Vaccines