The primary purpose of immunotherapy is to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight different types of cancer. Immunotherapy restores the normal immune system by curbing the growth of cancer cells. The medications also stop the malignant cells from spreading to other parts via the lymph node or blood circulatory system simultaneously boosting immune function. Although it is not completely possible to restore health, immunotherapy helps patients suffering from varying levels of the symptoms associated with a type of cancer. Chronic myelogenous leukemia, follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma are among many cancer types that can be managed with a combination of treatments in immunotherapy specifically.
Popular options for immunotherapy include the following:
- Monoclonal antibodies
The immune system is the body’s primary defense and produces antibodies when it senses a threat or external attack. Antibodies are loaded with powerful proteins that counter and, in most cases, fight the infection. Immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies helps the body block abnormal proteins in the cancer cells directly thus curbing the mutation at its source. The medication also enable the natural defense system to identify destroy cancer cells without harming the healthy cells in the vicinity by identifying the proteins linked to the antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are currently being used in clinical trials across the country as primary checkpoint inhibitors when it comes to preferred medication for immunotherapy. However, as an alternative, tumor agnostic treatments are also approved for treating cancers by focusing on specific genetic change. The FDA has given its nod to treat tumors and cancers with varying doses of tumor agnostic mediations where surgery or chemotherapy is not an option for effective treatment.
- Non-specific immunotherapies
Similar to monoclonal antibodies, the primary function of non-specific medications used in the immunotherapy treatment of cancer is to identify and destroy target specific cancer cells. Non-specific immunotherapy treatment can be combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to fight and slow the growth of cancerous cells. Interferons and interleukins are the two primary types of non-specific immunotherapy. Interferons focus on slowing the growth of cancer cells while interleukins help the immune system produce additional antibodies that destroy counter the growth of malignant cells. Non-specific immunotherapy is a great option for treating kidney cancer and skin cancer including melanoma.
- Oncolytic virus therapy
Genetically modified viruses kill the cancer cells in oncolytic virus therapy. The virus is injected directly into the tumor and rapidly makes copies of itself thus destroying the tumor in the process. The virus also triggers the cells to release antigens simultaneously to boost the immune system thus performing a dual attack on malignant cells. The treatment is being tested in clinical trials to determine its viability against different types of cancer and tumor.
- T-cell therapy
T-cells are naturally present in the immune system to fight off external infections. The doctors extract T-cells to be genetically modified in the laboratory to develop specific protein receptors. The receptors enable the modified cells to identify and destroy cancer cells without harming the normal cells in the vicinity.
- Cancer vaccines
Vaccines expose the immune system to antigens that in turn help identify and destroy antigen related materials invading the human body. Cancer vaccines contain such antigens that help identify the invading cells and destroy the same. They are broadly classified into prevention vaccines and treatment vaccines.