Biomaterial strategies for generating therapeutic immune responses

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Biomaterials employed to raise therapeutic immune responses have become a complex and active field. Historically, vaccines have been developed primarily to fight infectious diseases, but recent years have seen the development of immunologically active biomaterials towards an expanding list of non-infectious diseases and conditions including inflammation, autoimmunity, wounds, cancer, and others. This review structures its discussion of these approaches around a progression from single-target strategies to those that engage increasingly complex and multifactorial immune responses. First, the targeting of specific individual cytokines is discussed, both in terms of delivering the cytokines or blocking agents, and in terms of active immunotherapies that raise neutralizing immune responses against such single cytokine targets. Next, non-biological complex drugs such as randomized polyamino acid copolymers are discussed in terms of their ability to raise multiple different therapeutic immune responses, particularly in the context of autoimmunity. Last, biologically derived matrices and materials are discussed in terms of their ability to raise complex immune responses in the context of tissue repair. Collectively, these examples reflect the tremendous diversity of existing approaches and the breadth of opportunities that remain for generating therapeutic immune responses using biomaterials.

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