Cancer vaccines have garnered great interest as a potential arsenal to treat patients with cancer. The main goal and challenge in cancer immunotherapy includes the activation of the otherwise indolent immune system of cancer patients. It has been discovered that cytotoxic T cell mediated immune response is most efficacious in killing cancer cells. However, even if the immune system of a cancer patient is activated, there is no guarantee that such activation will be translated into cancer cell death. Nanotechnology has already transformed the field of small molecule therapy and holds promise to have similar impact on the field of cancer vaccines. Nanoparticles can be tailored to target specific receptors in immune competent or cancer cells and even elicit specific type of immune response. Desirable effects of nanoparticles can be controlled through modification of factors such shape, size, surface charge, composition, and hydrophobicity. Another advantage of nanoparticles includes the ability of simultaneous delivery of multiple antigens and adjuvant-antigen combinations, thereby increasing the likelihood of triggering an immune response. Extrapolating from the progress that nanoparticles have helped to make in other areas, it can be anticipated that nanotechnology approach would accelerate the process of clinical applications of cancer vaccines.
Keywords: Adjuvants, antigens, cancer, liposomes, nanoparticles, polymers, therapeutic vaccines, virus-like particles.