Nanomaterials for T-cell cancer immunotherapy

Nat Nanotechnol. 2021 Jan;16(1):25-36. doi: 10.1038/s41565-020-00822-y. Epub 2021 Jan 12.


T-cell-based immunotherapies hold promise for the treatment of many types of cancer, with three approved products for B-cell malignancies and a large pipeline of treatments in clinical trials. However, there are several challenges to their broad implementation. These include insufficient expansion of adoptively transferred T cells, inefficient trafficking of T cells into solid tumours, decreased T-cell activity due to a hostile tumour microenvironment and the loss of target antigen expression. Together, these factors restrict the number of therapeutically active T cells engaging with tumours. Nanomaterials are uniquely suited to overcome these challenges, as they can be rationally designed to enhance T-cell expansion, navigate complex physical barriers and modulate tumour microenvironments. Here, we present an overview of nanomaterials that have been used to overcome clinical barriers to T-cell-based immunotherapies and provide our outlook of this emerging field at the interface of cancer immunotherapy and nanomaterial design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Nanostructures*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen