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Trends Mol Med. 2012 Feb;18(2):72-80. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2011.11.002. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Targeted nanotherapy for induction of therapeutic immune responses.

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Cambridge Center for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2PY, UK.


Nanotechnology permits the design of therapeutic devices with defined structure and molecular composition. Modular designs employing surface-bound ligands provide specific homing devices for loaded cargo, and biocompatible and biodegradable constructs provide surrogate temporary microenvironments. We first present a case for developing 'smart' modular constructs as immunogenic vaccines to prime immune memory against specific pathogens where current vaccines fail. Second, we argue that nanotherapeutic intervention can harness pivotal molecular pathways recently discovered to regulate lineage development between pathogenic TH17 cells associated with autoimmune disease, versus tolerogenic regulatory T cells (Treg). Underpinned by molecular mechanisms that enable exquisitely specific responses in adaptive immunity, targeted nanodevices designed to stimulate either immune aggression or immune tolerance signify the birth of a new era in therapeutics.

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