Various immunotherapeutic agents that can elicit antitumor immune responses have recently been developed with the potential for improved efficacy in treating cancer. However, insufficient delivery efficiency at the tumor site, along with severe side effects after systemic administration of these anticancer agents, have hindered their therapeutic application in cancer immunotherapy. Hydrogels that can be directly injected into tumor sites have been developed to help modulate or elicit antitumor responses. Based on the biocompatibility, degradability, and controllable mechanochemical properties of these injectable hydrogels, various types of immunotherapeutic agents, such as hydrophobic anticancer drugs, cytokines, antigens, and adjuvants, have been easily and effectively encapsulated, resulting in the successful elicitation of antitumor immune responses and the retention of long-term immunotherapeutic efficacy following administration. This review summarizes recent advances in combination immunotherapy involving injectable hydrogel-based chemoimmunotherapy, photoimmunotherapy, and radioimmunotherapy. Finally, we briefly discuss the current limitations and future perspectives on injectable hydrogels for the effective combination immunotherapy of tumors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), with a grant funded by the Korean government (2019R1A2C3006283 and NRF-2022M3H4A1A03067401), the KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology (Korea University and KIST), and the Intramural Research Program of KIST.
© 2022 by the authors.
- cancer immunotherapy
- drug delivery
- injectable hydrogel