Cancer immunotherapy, also known as immuno-oncology, is a form of cancer treatment that harnesses the power of the body’s immune system to prevent, control and eliminate cancer. Some immunotherapies aim to stimulate the immune system to reactivate and attack cancer cells. The “memory” of the body’s immune system allows it to remember what a cancer cell looks like so it can target and destroy the cancer if it comes back.
Normally, our immune system can detect and destroy defective cells in the body, thereby preventing the development of cancer. As part of the normal function of the immune system, the immune system detects and destroys abnormal cells and is likely to stop or slow the growth of many tumors. While chemotherapy drugs are used to attack rapidly produced cells throughout the body, immunotherapy activates the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells.
Cancer immunotherapy exploits the fact that cancer cells often have cancer antigens, molecules on their surface that can be detected by immune system antibody proteins that bind to them. Normal antibodies bind to external pathogens, but modified immunotherapeutic antibodies bind to tumor antigens, marking and identifying tumor cells that the immune system can inhibit or destroy. The difference is that while chemotherapy leads to the destruction of not only tumors but also normal cells, leading to a potential immune response against self-antigens expressed in normal tissues, targeted molecular therapy, by attacking cancer cells with certain genetic characteristics, limits an activated immune response generated by immunotherapeutic agents specifically against tumor antigens.
Cancer vaccines, which can reduce the risk of cancer by attacking cancer-causing viruses, or can treat cancer by stimulating the immune system to attack cancer cells in a specific part of the body. Immunotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies. Most people receive non-specific immunotherapy after or along with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Sometimes two different types of immunotherapy are combined during treatment. Which of the many types of immunotherapy your doctor recommends depends on the type of cancer and its stage.
For some cancers, immunotherapy is now an important treatment option. Some immunotherapies are now standard of care for some types of cancer, while others are only available in our Precision Immunotherapy Clinic. Immunotherapy is a very active area of research in cancer treatment, with new treatments constantly being approved. Overall, immunotherapy is an important approach to finding new treatments for cancer.
Over the past few decades, immunotherapy has become an important part of treating certain types of cancer. Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that strengthens the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This is a targeted therapy that uses drugs or other substances to attack specific cancer cells with less damage to normal cells.
Used also known as targeted therapy or cancer treatment that targets cancer-specific genes, proteins, or tissue environment that helps tumors grow and survive. Immunotherapy is used on its own for some types of cancer, but for others it works best in combination with other treatments. Doctors use immunotherapy to treat some types of cancer, and researchers are conducting clinical trials to see if immunotherapy works for other types as well.
Several immunotherapy drugs have been approved to fight cancer, and hundreds more are in clinical trials (scientific studies involving volunteers to test new drugs). To expand the benefits of immunotherapy, Anderson MD is leading research into new and more effective ways to improve the immune response to cancer.
Adoptive cell therapy increases the number and/or effectiveness of immune cells (usually T cells), thereby increasing the effectiveness of the immune response against cancer. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy enhances the ability of T cells to fight cancer. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy provides patients with large numbers of T cells that are genetically engineered to detect and fight cancer. This editing of T cells is called T cell genetic engineering.
The lab then adds specific proteins called receptors to the T cells. White blood cells are grown in bulk and injected back into the body to fight tumors. This treatment changes the genes of a person’s white blood cells (T cells) to help them recognize and kill cancer cells.
Stem cell transplants from matched donors are considered a form of immunotherapy because the donated blood components provide patients with a new immune system that is better able to fight the disease. A bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant, can use your own bone marrow stem cells or cells from a donor. Bone marrow transplants allow doctors to use higher doses of chemotherapy to treat cancer. If your cancer is particularly sensitive to radiation or chemotherapy, you may receive one of these treatments as your main treatment.
Success rates for any cancer treatment, including immunotherapy, depend on individual factors, including the type and stage of the cancer. Various factors—such as the genetic make-up of the cancer cells, the extent of the cancer’s progression, and its response to previous treatments—determine whether and when immunotherapy can be used as part of standard treatment. The general health of the patient and the type of cancer determine which immunotherapies are available to them.
Surgery, chemotherapy A, and radiation therapy A remain the most widely used cancer treatments, but checkpoint immunotherapy may benefit some people with certain cancers. Immune control therapy helps cancer-fighting immune cells called T cells produce a longer-lasting response to cancer. A particularly promising form of immunotherapy, called immune checkpoint inhibition, uses antibodies to block cancer cell proteins such as CTLA4, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby preventing the immune system from attacking cells.