Tumor cell membrane-based vaccines: A potential boost for cancer immunotherapy

The review provides a comprehensive overview of the development and application of tumor cell membrane (TCM)-based vaccines for cancer protection and therapy. A detailed description of structure of the TCM-wrapped particles (TCMPs), modification of TCMPs, membrane hybridization, and related adjuvants is given. As a derivative of TCM, the vaccines for tumor-derived-extracellular vesicles (TEVs) are also discussed, which include engineering and approaches to treat tumor cells for TEVs. At last, an outlook based on the perspectives and limitations of TCM vaccines are presented.


Because therapeutic cancer vaccines can, in theory, eliminate tumor cells specifically with relatively low toxicity, they have long been considered for application in repressing cancer progression. Traditional cancer vaccines containing a single or a few discrete tumor epitopes have failed in the clinic, possibly due to challenges in epitope selection, target downregulation, cancer cell heterogeneity, tumor microenvironment immunosuppression, or a lack of vaccine immunogenicity. Whole cancer cell or cancer membrane vaccines, which provide a rich source of antigens, are emerging as viable alternatives. Autologous and allogenic cellular cancer vaccines have been evaluated as clinical treatments. Tumor cell membranes (TCMs) are an intriguing antigen source, as they provide membrane-accessible targets and, at the same time, serve as integrated carriers of vaccine adjuvants and other therapeutic agents. This review provides a summary of the properties and technologies for TCM cancer vaccines. Characteristics, categories, mechanisms, and preparation methods are discussed, as are the demonstrable additional benefits derived from combining TCM vaccines with chemotherapy, sonodynamic therapy, phototherapy, and oncolytic viruses. Further research in chemistry, biomedicine, cancer immunology, and bioinformatics to address current drawbacks could facilitate the clinical adoption of TCM vaccines.

Author list:

Muyang Yang†, Jie Zhou†, Liseng Lu, Deqiang Deng, Jing Huang, Zijian Tang, Xiujuan Shi, Pui-Chi Lo, Jonathan F. Lovell, Yongfa Zheng*, Honglin Jin*

How to cite:

M. Yang, J. Zhou, L. Lu, D. Deng, J. Huang, Z. Tang, X. Shi, P.-C. Lo, J. F. Lovell, Y. Zheng, H. Jin, Exploration 2024, 20230171.