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Nanotechnology Reviews

Editor-in-Chief: Hui, David

Managing Editor: Skoryna, Juliusz

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Volume 2, Issue 2


Immune responses of therapeutic lipid nanoparticles

Weihsu Claire Chen
  • Drug Delivery and Formulation, Medicinal Chemistry Platform, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jonathan P. May
  • Drug Delivery and Formulation, Medicinal Chemistry Platform, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Shyh-Dar Li
  • Corresponding author
  • Drug Delivery and Formulation, Medicinal Chemistry Platform, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-01-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ntrev-2012-0040


Nanoparticle-based drug delivery is an emerging technology for targeting therapeutics to the diseased site for enhanced therapy and reduced toxicity. A number of pharmaceutical products that involve nanotechnology have been approved for clinical use, and because of altered pharmacokinetics and biodistribution, their profiles of interaction with host cells and resulting toxicity are different from parent agents. This review focuses on the immune responses induced by therapeutic lipid nanoparticles. These immune responses can provoke toxicity, affect pharmacokinetics of the nanoparticles or induce therapeutic effect. This article begins with a general introduction on immune responses and innate and acquired immunity. Specific examples of therapeutic lipid nanoparticles inducing immune responses in each category are presented with detailed discussions on the mechanisms. Current guidelines for evaluating immune response of nanomedicines are summarized. Finally, perspectives and future directions are provided emphasizing mechanistic studies of immune reactions triggered by nanoparticles.

Keywords: immune response; lipid nanoparticle; nanomedicine

About the article

Weihsu Claire Chen

Weihsu Claire Chen received a BS in Life Science from the National Taiwan University and a MS in Immunology from the National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan. She was a Project Manager in United Biomedical, Inc. in New York before she went to the University of Pittsburgh to pursue her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in Professor Leaf Huang’s laboratory. Her thesis focused on the development of liposomal peptide vaccines for treatment of cancers. After graduating in 2007, Dr. Chen was recruited as a postdoctoral fellow by Professor James C. Paulson at The Scripps Research Institute where she developed carbohydrate-modified liposomal nanoparticles to selectively deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to human B cell lymphoma. She joined the Medicinal Chemistry Platform at Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in 2010. Dr. Chen is currently a Scientific Associate in Dr. John E. Dick’s laboratory at Ontario Cancer Institute where she conducts studies using small molecule drugs that target leukemia stem cells.

Jonathan P. May

Jonathan P. May received his MSc in Chemistry from the University of Durham, UK and his PhD from the University of Southampton, UK, on the subject of Nucleic Acid Chemistry. His thesis, titled “The Development of Oligonucleotide Probes for Genetic Analysis,” focused on the synthesis of novel fluorescent quenchers and duplex stabilizing moieties for fluorescent probe technologies. His work led to a marketed product for his PhD CASE award sponsor, Eurogentec, Belgium. He was then awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from The Royal Society, UK, to work on two projects related to DNAzymes and bicyclic peptide toxins with Prof. David Perrin at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Following this, he took a job at Vancouver’s CDRD (Center for Drug Research and Development) in the Medicinal Chemistry division, before moving across the country to take his current position at the OICR (Ontario Institute for Cancer Research) working on nanomedicine approaches for cancer therapy. His current focus is on developing HaT technology, a thermosensitive liposomal formulation for the delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to tumors with reduced systemic exposure.

Shyh-Dar Li

Shyh-Dar Li received a BS in Pharmacy and a MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the National Taiwan University. He then joined the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan, where he invented two nanomedicine technologies for delivering oligonucleotides and peptides to tumors and the brain. These technologies have been licensed by Andros Pharmaceuticals (Taiwan) and to BBB Technologies (The Netherlands). Dr. Li obtained his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under Dr. Leaf Huang’s supervision. His thesis project focused on developing tumor-targeted nanoparticles for siRNA delivery, and this technology along with others from the Huang laboratory led to the launch of a start-up company, Qualiber. Dr. Li completed his postdoctoral training with Dr. Stephen Howell at the University of California, San Diego, where he developed a polysaccharide conjugate of cisplatin for intraperitoneal chemotherapy. He joined the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research as a Principal Investigator in 2009 focusing on drug delivery research. His laboratory has created two proprietary technologies to enhance cancer chemotherapy, including a thermosensitive liposomal formulation (HaT) and a polymeric conjugate platform (Cellax). His work has been published in scholarly journals and his laboratory has been supported by major funding agencies in Canada and the US.

Corresponding author: Shyh-Dar Li, Drug Delivery and Formulation, Medicinal Chemistry Platform, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, Canada

Received: 2012-11-01

Accepted: 2012-11-29

Published Online: 2013-01-05

Published in Print: 2013-04-01

Citation Information: Nanotechnology Reviews, Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages 201–213, ISSN (Online) 2191-9097, ISSN (Print) 2191-9089, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ntrev-2012-0040.

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