Dendrimers for cancer immunotherapy: Avidity-based drug delivery vehicles for effective anti-tumor immune response

Piper A. Rawding, Jiyoon Bu, Jianxin Wang, Da Won Kim, Adam J. Drelich, Youngsoo Kim, Seungpyo Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer immunotherapy, or the utilization of a patient's own immune system to treat cancer, has shifted the paradigm of cancer treatment. Despite meaningful responses being observed in multiple studies, currently available immunotherapy platforms have only proven effective to a small subset of patients. To address this, nanoparticles have been utilized as a novel carrier for immunotherapeutic drugs, achieving robust anti-tumor effects with increased adaptive and durable responses. Specifically, dendrimer nanoparticles have attracted a great deal of scientific interest due to their versatility in various therapeutic applications, resulting from their unique physicochemical properties and chemically well-defined architecture. This review offers a comprehensive overview of dendrimer-based immunotherapy technologies, including their formulations, biological functionalities, and therapeutic applications. Common formulations include: (1) modulators of cytokine secretion of immune cells (adjuvants); (2) facilitators of the recognition of tumorous antigens (vaccines); (3) stimulators of immune effectors to selectively attack cells expressing specific antigens (antibodies); and (4) inhibitors of immune-suppressive responses (immune checkpoint inhibitors). On-going works and prospects of dendrimer-based immunotherapies are also discussed. Overall, this review provides a critical overview on rapidly growing dendrimer-based immunotherapy technologies and serves as a guideline for researchers and clinicians who are interested in this field. This article is categorized under: Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Nanomedicine for Oncologic Disease Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Emerging Technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1752
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
NSF Division of Materials Research, Grant/Award Number: 1808251; UW Head and Neck SPORE, Grant/Award Number: P50‐DE026787; Milton J. Henrichs Fund; SEED D2P funds; Catalyst Award from Falk Medical Research Trust Funding information

Funding Information:
The authors thank NSF DMR‐1808251, Catalyst Award from Falk Medical Research Trust, DRP Award from UW Head and Neck SPORE (P50‐DE026787), SEED D2P funds, and Milton J. Henrichs Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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