Science Translational Medicine
22 August 2012 vol 4, issue 148
Engineering Approaches to Immunotherapy
Melody A. Swartz, Sachiko Hirosue, and Jeffrey A. Hubbell
22 August 2012: 148rv9
As the science of immunology grows increasingly mechanistic, motivation for developing quantitative, design-based engineering approaches has also evolved, both for therapeutic interventions and for elucidating immunological pathways in human disease. This has seeded the nascent field of “immunoengineering,” which seeks to apply engineering analyses and design approaches to problems in translational immunology. For example, cell engineers are creating ways to tailor and use immune cells as living therapeutics; protein engineers are devising new methods of rapid antibody discovery; biomaterials scientists are guiding vaccine delivery and immune-cell activation with novel constructs; and systems immunologists are deciphering the evolution and maintenance of T and B cell receptor repertoires, which could help guide vaccine design. The field is multidisciplinary and collaborative, with engineers and immunologists working together to better understand and treat disease. We discuss the scientific progress in this young, yet rapidly evolving research area, which has yielded numerous start-up companies that are betting on impact in clinical and commercial translation in the near future.