Peptide Hydrogels as Immunomaterials and Their Use in Cancer Immunotherapy Delivery

Adv Healthc Mater. 2023 Oct;12(27):e2301096. doi: 10.1002/adhm.202301096. Epub 2023 Jul 9.


Peptide-based hydrogel biomaterials have emerged as an excellent strategy for immune system modulation. Peptide-based hydrogels are supramolecular materials that self-assemble into various nanostructures through various interactive forces (i.e., hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions) and respond to microenvironmental stimuli (i.e., pH, temperature). While they have been reported in numerous biomedical applications, they have recently been deemed promising candidates to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies and treatments. Immunotherapies seek to harness the body's immune system to preemptively protect against and treat various diseases, such as cancer. However, their low efficacy rates result in limited patient responses to treatment. Here, the immunomaterial's potential to improve these efficacy rates by either functioning as immune stimulators through direct immune system interactions and/or delivering a range of immune agents is highlighted. The chemical and physical properties of these peptide-based materials that lead to immuno modulation and how one may design a system to achieve desired immune responses in a controllable manner are discussed. Works in the literature that reports peptide hydrogels as adjuvant systems and for the delivery of immunotherapies are highlighted. Finally, the future trends and possible developments based on peptide hydrogels for cancer immunotherapy applications are discussed.

Keywords: adjuvants; biomaterials; cancer immunotherapy; immunomaterials; peptide hydrogels; supramolecular assembly; vaccines.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nanostructures* / chemistry
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Peptides / chemistry


  • Hydrogels
  • Peptides