Particle accelerators are amongst the largest and most complex machines ever built. Future generations of more powerful accelerators are, however, limited by their large size and cost. Thus, to continuously boost the energies of accelerated particles, we will describe a promising advanced acceleration concept based on the use of plasmas. In connection with the most recent developments in the field, we will present full-scale, one-to-one computer simulations and theory addressing some of the challenges associated with successful experiments now being pursued at CERN and at SLAC. In addition, we will explore outstanding questions for the future of this technology by studying the interaction between plasmas and intense exotic particle beams with hollow profiles and twisted laser pulses with helical wavefronts.