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Chemical and Biomolecular Strategies for STING Pathway Activation in Cancer Immunotherapy


Garland KMKyle M , Sheehy TLTaylor L , Wilson JTJohn T . Chemical reviews. 2022 2 2; 122(6). 5977-6039


The stimulator of interferon genes (STING) cellular signaling pathway is a promising target for cancer immunotherapy. Activation of the intracellular STING protein triggers the production of a multifaceted array of immunostimulatory molecules, which, in the proper context, can drive dendritic cell maturation, antitumor macrophage polarization, T cell priming and activation, natural killer cell activation, vascular reprogramming, and/or cancer cell death, resulting in immune-mediated tumor elimination and generation of antitumor immune memory. Accordingly, there is a significant amount of ongoing preclinical and clinical research toward further understanding the role of the STING pathway in cancer immune surveillance as well as the development of modulators of the pathway as a strategy to stimulate antitumor immunity. Yet, the efficacy of STING pathway agonists is limited by many drug delivery and pharmacological challenges. Depending on the class of STING agonist and the desired administration route, these may include poor drug stability, immunocellular toxicity, immune-related adverse events, limited tumor or lymph node targeting and/or retention, low cellular uptake and intracellular delivery, and a complex dependence on the magnitude and kinetics of STING signaling. This review provides a concise summary of the STING pathway, highlighting recent biological developments, immunological consequences, and implications for drug delivery. This review also offers a critical analysis of an expanding arsenal of chemical strategies that are being employed to enhance the efficacy, safety, and/or clinical utility of STING pathway agonists and lastly draws attention to several opportunities for therapeutic advancements.