Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that activates the immune system to fight against cancer.
The immune system is our body’s defense mechanism that can fight against other diseases.
White blood cells and the lymphatic system play an important role in immune system functioning.
Immunotherapy is considered a biological therapy as it uses living organisms as a substance to treat cancer.
Mechanism of action of immunotherapy
The immune system generally detects and destroys abnormal cells and also participates in the prevention of cancer development and progression.
Immune cells that are termed tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes or TILs often present around or in the tumor.
The presence of TILs indicates the responsiveness of the immune system to the tumor.
Patients who have TILs often respond better than patients without TILs.
Cancer growth can be prevented or slowed down because of immune system functioning, similarly, cancer cells have their mechanisms to act against immune functioning.
For instance, cancer cells may follow the following mechanisms to act against immune functioning to avoid destruction:
Genetic modification makes the cancerous cells less identifiable by the immune system.
The protein present in the cancerous cell surface destroy immune cell functioning
Cancer surrounding tissues and cells interfere with the immune system functioning against cancer cells.
Immunotherapy promotes the immune system to act better against cancerous growth.
Types of immunotherapy
Following are different types of immunotherapy used for cancer treatment:
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are medicines that obstruct immune checkpoints.
The immune system normally has such checkpoints to control the immune response against bodies own tissues or cells.
But inhibiting the immune checkpoints by taking medicine allows immune cells to work more strongly against cancer.
T-cell transfer therapy can boost the ability of T-cells to act against cancer. In this treatment procedure, immune cells are collected from tumor cells.
The collected immune cells are modified in the laboratory then they push back to the body through an intravenous route for better attacking cancer cells.
T-cell transfer therapy is also termed immune cell therapy, adoptive cell therapy, or adoptive immunotherapy.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made immune system proteins.
These designed proteins can bind to the specific targets of cancer cells.
Some monoclonal antibodies in immunotherapy help in cancer cells identification so that they can easily be targeted and destroyed by the immune system.
Monoclonal antibodies are also known as therapeutic antibodies.
Treatment vaccines that act against cancer by enhancing the immune system’s response to cancer cells. Treatment vaccines are diverse types the ones that help avert disease.
Immune system modulators that augment the body’s immune function against cancer.
Some of these agents affect specific parts of the immune system, whereas others affect the immune system in a more general way.
Immunotherapy is effective to treat following cancers
Medical advisory committees have approved a variety of cancers treatment based on the clinical trial result findings.
However, the application of immunotherapy is still not very common compared with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy for treating cancer.
Side effects of immunotherapy
Immunotherapy has some significant side effects because of the development of autoimmunity that not only acts against cancerous cells but also impacts healthy cells and tissues.
Administration of immunotherapy
Following are some routes of administration of immunotherapy:
The immunotherapy is administered through the vein.
Immunotherapy is also available in pills or capsule dosage forms that need to take through the oral route.
The immunotherapy can also be topically administered in case of cream or other topical dosage forms.
Topical immunotherapy is specifically recommended for treating early skin cancer.
The immunotherapy is administered directly into the bladder.