Immunotherapy drugs are the biggest breakthrough since chemotherapy.
Researchers have made what looks like a “once in a generation” breakthrough in fighting cancer, advancing a technique that could become one of the “pillars of oncology,” next to surgery and chemotherapy. The technique enables the immune system, which ordinarily treats malignant cancer cells as if they were healthy, normal cells, to identify and attack tumors.
Immunotherapy may work in the following ways:
- Stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells
- Stopping cancer from spreading to other parts of the body
- Helping the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells
TYPES OF CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY
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.