Recent advances and challenges of repurposing nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems to enhance cancer immunotherapy

Seungho Lim, Jooho Park, Man Kyu Shim, Wooram Um, Hong Yeol Yoon, Ju Hee Ryu, Dong Kwon Lim, Kwangmeyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer immunotherapy is an attractive treatment option under clinical settings. However, the major challenges of immunotherapy include limited patient response, limited tumor specificity, immune-related adverse events, and immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Therefore, nanoparticle (NP)-based drug delivery has been used to not only increase the efficacy of immunotherapeutic agents, but it also significantly reduces the toxicity. In particular, NP-based drug delivery systems alter the pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of encapsulated or conjugated immunotherapeutic agents to targeted cancer cells or immune cells and facilitate the delivery of multiple therapeutic combinations to targeted cells using single NPs. Recently, advanced NP-based drug delivery systems were effectively utilized in cancer immunotherapy to reduce the toxic side effects and immune-related adverse events. Repurposing these NPs as delivery systems of immunotherapeutic agents may overcome the limitations of current cancer immunotherapy. In this review, we focus on recent advances in NP-based immunotherapeutic delivery systems, such as immunogenic cell death (ICD)-inducing drugs, cytokines and adjuvants for promising cancer immunotherapy. Finally, we discuss the challenges facing current NP-based drug delivery systems that need to be addressed for successful clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7906-7923
Number of pages18
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science (NRF-2019R1A2C3006283), KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology (Korea University) and the Intramural Research Program of KIST.

Publisher Copyright:
© The author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.


  • Adjuvants
  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Cytokines
  • Drug delivery system
  • Immunogenic cell death
  • Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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