Immunotherapy & Cancer Immunotherapy: From Basic Biology to Translational Research

Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a couple of ways:

 

 •         Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells
 •          Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins

 

Some types of immunotherapy are also sometimes called biologic therapy or biotherapy. In the last few decades immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. Newer types of immune treatments are now being studied, and they’ll impact how we treat cancer in the future. Immunotherapy includes treatments that work in different ways. Some boost the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically.           

 

 Cancer immunotherapy is the use of the immune system to treat cancer. The main types of immunotherapy now being used to treat cancer include:

 

•          Monoclonal antibodies: these are man-made versions of immune system proteins. Antibodies can be very useful in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell.

 

•          Immune checkpoint inhibitors: these drugs basically take the ‘brakes’ off the immune system, which helps it recognize and attack cancer cells.

 

•          Cancer vaccines: vaccines are substances put into the body to start an immune response against certain diseases. We usually think of them as being given to healthy people to help prevent infections. But some vaccines can help prevent or treat cancer.

 

•      Other, non-specific immunotherapies: these treatments boost the immune system in a general way, but this can still help the immune system attack cancer cells.

 

Immunotherapy drugs are now used to treat many different types of cancer. For more information about immunotherapy as a treatment for a specific cancer, please see our information on that type of cancer.

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