Engineering challenges for brain tumor immunotherapy

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2017 May 15:114:19-32. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.06.006. Epub 2017 Jun 15.


Malignant brain tumors represent one of the most devastating forms of cancer with abject survival rates that have not changed in the past 60years. This is partly because the brain is a critical organ, and poses unique anatomical, physiological, and immunological barriers. The unique interplay of these barriers also provides an opportunity for creative engineering solutions. Cancer immunotherapy, a means of harnessing the host immune system for anti-tumor efficacy, is becoming a standard approach for treating many cancers. However, its use in brain tumors is not widespread. This review discusses the current approaches, and hurdles to these approaches in treating brain tumors, with a focus on immunotherapies. We identify critical barriers to immunoengineering brain tumor therapies and discuss possible solutions to these challenges.

Keywords: Blood-brain barrier; Brain cancer; Glioblastoma; Immunoengineering; Immunomodulation; Immunotherapy; Lymphatics; Neuroimmunology; Neurooncoimmunology; Tumor-associated microglia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Bioengineering*
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / immunology*
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Vaccines / immunology


  • Vaccines