What is Immunotherapy ?
Immunotherapy can also be called “biologic therapy“. Which is a method of treating cancer. It works by boosting the body’s natural defense to fight cancer via the use of substances made by the body or substances made in the laboratory. The substances works to improve the immune system functions.
Immunotherapy can work in many ways such as:
- Stopping or reducing the growth rate of the cancer cells.
- Preventing the spread of the cancer to other tissues of the body.
- Boosting the immune system to work better in killing the cancer cells.
Types of immunotherapy include:
- T-cell therapy: The T-cells are immune cells that protect the body from infection by fighting them. In T-cell therapy, T- cells are removed from the blood, taken to the lab and worked on to have more receptors (protein). These receptors help the T-cells to recognize the cancer cells and kill them once the T-cells are returned back to the body.
- Monoclonal antibodies: These are antibodies produced in the laboratory .They can be used to fight or stop the growth of any abnormal protein in a cancer cell. As an immunotherapy, monoclonal antibodies attached to specific proteins on cancer cells flags off the cancer cells so that the immune system can locate and destroy those cells.
- Oncolytic virus therapy: This uses genetically modified viruses to destroy the cancer cells. The virus is injected into the tumor and the virus replicates itself and the cell burst and dies. As the cells die, antigens are released, and these antigens cause the immune cells to find other cancer cells with the same antigen in the body and kill them too.
- Cancer vaccines: The vaccine causes the immune system to be exposed to antigens; hence the immune system finds and kills the antigens. Vaccines can be for prevention or treatment.
- Non specific immunotherapy: These are in form chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Two common ones are Interferons and Interleukins. Interferons help the immune system to fight cancer and also aid in slowing the growth rate, while interleukins help the immune system to produce cells that destroy the cancer cells. However they both have some side effects as thinning hair, rashes, low blood pressure, flu-like symptoms, and weight gain.