From ancient Greece via 19th century France, through to the present day, the development of our knowledge of the immune system has grown exponentially. This complex network of cells and secreted proteins is present in almost every organ of the human body. Our immune systems play intricate roles in both homeostasis and disease, regulating processes from bacterial infection to tissue development. The idea of engineering the immune system has been around for over 100 years. In 1880, Louis Pasteur first presented his findings on vaccination to the public, and by 1885 he had immunized the first child against the rabies virus. In the 1890s, William Coley described the deliberate infection of cancer patients with streptococcus bacteria, which led to a reduction in tumour burden, and has been described as the first cancer immunotherapy. Jumping forward to the present day, we have begun modulating immune responses through the use of nanoparticles, biomaterial scaffolds and small molecule drugs. These approaches to engineer immune responses can be used in a variety of applications from disease prevention to tissue regeneration.

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