Immunotherapy uses our immune system to fight cancer. It works by supporting the immune system in recognizing and attacking cancer cells.
Our immune system protects the body against infections, diseases and diseases. It can also protect us from the development of cancer.
The immune system includes the lymph glands, spleen and white blood cells. Normally, it can detect and destroy defective cells in the body, stopping the development of cancer. But cancer can develop when:
- The immune system recognizes cancer cells, but is not strong enough to kill cancer cells
- Cancer cells produce signals that stop the immune system from attacking it
- Cancer cells are hiding or escaping from the immune system
Immunotherapy is not as widely used as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells, and radiotherapy means using radiation, usually X-rays, to treat the disease.
Immunotherapy uses the natural power of the immune system to fight disease and has been approved for the treatment of people with many types of cancer.
There are different types of immunotherapy, some of which are also called targeted therapies or biological therapies.
Monoclonal antibodies (MABs)
Monoclonal antibodies are molecules produced in laboratories designed to serve as replacement antibodies that can restore, amplify or imitate the immune system's attack on cancer cells.
They are designed to bind to antigens that are generally more numerous on the surface of cancer cells than healthy cells. This process is called antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC).
Vaccines for the treatment of cancer
Typically, vaccines help protect us from the disease, and researchers are investigating whether vaccines can be used as a treatment to help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
When you have a vaccine, it stimulates the immune system to function. The immune system produces antibodies that recognize and attack harmless versions of the disease.
When the body produces these antibodies, it can recognize the disease if it re-contacts it. So you are protected from this.
Cytokines are a group of proteins in the body that play an important role in stimulating the immune system.
Interferon and interleukin are types of cytokines found in the body. Researchers have developed man-made versions to treat certain types of cancer.
Transfer of adoption cells
Cellular adoption carries the genes of white blood cells (T lymphocytes) of a human to help them recognize and kill cancer cells. Changing the T cell in this way is called T cell genetic engineering.
This treatment is only available as part of a clinical trial in the United Kingdom. An example of the type of adoptive cell transfer is the T cell CAR therapy.
Source: Cancer Research UK