The design of nanovaccines capable of triggering effective antitumor immunity requires an understanding of how the immune system senses and responds to threats, including pathogens and tumors. Equally important is an understanding of the mechanisms employed by tumor cells to evade immunity and an appreciation of the deleterious effects that antitumor immune responses can have on tumor growth, such as by skewing tumor cell composition toward immunologically silent tumor cell variants. The immune system and tumors engage in a tug-of-war driven by competition where promoting antitumor immunity or tumor cell death alone may be therapeutically insufficient. Nanotechnology affords a unique opportunity to develop therapeutic compounds than can simultaneously tackle both aspects, favoring tumor eradication. Here, we review the current status of nanoparticle-based immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer, ranging from antigen/adjuvant delivery vehicles (to professional antigen-presenting cell types of the immune system) to direct tumor antigen-specific T-lymphocyte-targeting compounds and their combinations thereof.
Keywords: T-lymphocytes; cancer immunotherapy; danger-associated molecular patterns; environment-responsive nanoparticles; lymphocyte co-stimulators; nanoparticles; targeted delivery; tumor immune evasion; tumor immune surveillance; tumor immunoediting; tumor-associated antigens; vaccines.