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Applications of Cell Surface Engineering in Cancer Cells

Cancer cells mostly derive from genetic changes and differ from normal cells in the body in many ways, including continuing to grow, immortality, and having the ability to metastasize to other regions of the body. The surface engineering of cancer cells has been leveraged for both therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.

Cancer Cell Surface Engineering for Enhanced Tumor Vaccine

The use of whole killed cancer cells, which provide a comprehensive source of tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), is a cancer vaccine strategy that has shown promising outcomes in preclinical and clinical settings. While these cells have delivered encouraging results in clinical trials, enhancement of the immunogenicity of these vaccines is still required to further induce potent protective immunity. The cell surface engineering of tumor cells with various immune modifiers and costimulatory agents can enhance the immunogenicity of the vaccine compared to providing a soluble form of the adjuvant.

Cancer cells with adjuvant-loaded PLGA nanoparticles. Fig.1 Cancer cells with adjuvant-loaded PLGA nanoparticles. (Ahmed, 2017)

Cancer Cell Surface Engineering for Targeted Therapy

Distinguishing cancer cells from normal cells through cell-surface receptors, which provide the molecular recognition moieties, is vital for cancer diagnosis and targeted therapy. It can be achieved by engineering and converting some tumor-associated or -specific surface receptors into some detectable reporters.

Active tissue targeting via anchored click chemistry. Fig.2 Active tissue targeting via anchored click chemistry. (Wang, 2017)

If you are interested in more about cell surface engineering in cancer cells, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.


  1. Shirota, H.; Klinman, D.M. CpG-conjugated apoptotic tumor cells elicit potent tumor-specific immunity. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy. 2011, 60(5), pp.659-669.
  2. Ahmed, K.K.; et al. Surface engineering tumor cells with adjuvant-loaded particles for use as cancer vaccines. Journal of Controlled Release. 2017, 248, pp.1-9.
  3. Wang, H.; et al. Selective in vivo metabolic cell-labeling-mediated cancer targeting. Nature chemical biology. 2017, 13(4), pp.415-424.

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