Immunotherapy is treatment that uses a person’s own immune system to destroy tumor cells. This can be done in a couple of ways:
– Tricker your own immune system to work harder and/or smarter to attack tumor cells.
– Helping you immune system with proteins, such as immune system proteins.
To understand immunotherapy you need to know what an immune system is.
Your immune system is a collection of special cells, organs, and proteins that help protect you from infections and some other diseases. Immune cells and the proteins travel through your body to protect it from organisms that cause infections. They are also able destroy tumor cells.
The immune system keeps track of all of the proteins normally found in the body. Any new proteins that the immune system doesn’t recognize raises alarmbells, causing the immune system to attack it. An example of the mechanism could be, germs contain certain proteins that are not normally found in the body. The immune system recognise these proteins and destroys the germs.
The immune system can recognise cancer cells, but often the tumor cells contain proteins that are not recognized as cancer proteins. This is because tumors start as normal cells they change and start to grow out of control.
Clearly there are limits on the immune system’s ability to destroy tumor cells on its own. The immune system doesn’t always see the tumor cells as strange because the cells aren’t changed enough compared to normal cells. Sometimes the immune system recognizes the cancer cells, but the response might not be strong enough to destroy the tumor. Tumor cells themselves can also give off proteins that keep the immune system in check.
To overcome this problem, scientist have found ways to help the immune system recognize tumor cells and increase the immune response to find and destroy the tumor cells.
In the last decade immunotherapy has become the treating option for some types of cancer. New technologies of immune treatments are now being studied, and they will impact how we treat tumors in the future.
Immunotherapy is a term that includes treatments that work in very different ways. Some boost the immune system in a very general way. Others help the immune system to attack cancer cells very specifically.
Immunotherapy seems to works better for some types of tumors than for others. For some cancers imunnotherapy is enough and others seem to work better with in combination with other types of treatment.
Types of immunotherapy that are being used today:
– Monoclonal antibodies: Work by recognising and finding specific proteins on cancer cells. These proteins are synthesised as Antibodies and can be very useful in treating cancer.
– Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs basically take the ‘brake’ off the immune system, which helps attack cancer cells.
– Cancer vaccines: is a vaccines with proteins put into the body to start an immune response against tumor cells.
– Other, non-specific immunotherapies: These are general boosts to the immune system to help the immune system attack cancer cells.
Immunotherapy drugs are now used to treat many different types of tumour cells. For more questions or information about immunotherapy as a treatment for a specific cancer, please send us a massage.