Worldwide, many people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and more than half, unfortunately, succumb to it. The ways we treat different types of cancer are changing due to improvements in our understanding of the immune system. Normal cells that have undergone mutations (changes) are cancer cells. They are not perceived as threats by the immune system; therefore, an immunological reaction that should have happened doesn’t get triggered. However, some cancer forms may alter the immune system’s functioning. According to experts, the immune system can fight some cancers and other diseases with assistance. The term for this is immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has wholly changed how cancer is treated, among other multimodalities such as surgery, hormone therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy. Various malignancies have seen a sharp increase recently. The branch of cancer treatment known as immuno-oncology is rapidly expanding and fascinating, potentially changing how they are managed. Many immunotherapy clinics are popping up everywhere due to this newfound way to battle cancer.
What is Immunotherapy
With recent success, immunotherapy has become a respectable pillar of cancer treatment and a practical method that has improved the prognosis for many patients with various malignancies. Immunotherapy uses chemicals made by the body or inside a laboratory that strengthens the immune system and helps locate and eliminate cancer cells.
Your immune system can be rebuilt or restored with immunotherapy, enabling your immune system to effectively destroy cancerous cells and prevent the disease from spreading to other body parts (metastasizing).
How does it work
Your immune system’s primary duty is to defend your body against invaders, including viruses, allergies, and potentially malignant, damaged cells. Its cells continuously search your body for intruders. The immune system recognizes bad cells, removes them, and stops or slows down the growth of many potential threats as part of its regular activity.
Cancerous cells are always trying to get through the immune system’s defenses. Immunotherapy teaches your immune system to locate and eliminate cancer cells more effectively. In addition, they assist your body in developing immune cells capable of detecting and destroying cancer cells.
- Cancer Vaccines – are produced from lab-modified cells that trigger an immunological reaction in your body. The purpose of vaccines is to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight off specific diseases. In our minds, they are typically administered to healthy individuals to fight off infections. Yet, some vaccines can either treat or prevent cancer.
- Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors – Your immune system is a potent protection mechanism that can occasionally be overly effective. Your body contains checkpoints to prevent your immune system from responding to invaders and harming healthy cells. These drugs prevent the inactivation of T lymphocytes by tumor cells. As a result, the immune system and T-cells can continue to function and combat the tumor.
- Adoptive T-cell Transfer – This medication increases your T cells’ inherent capacity to fight cancer. Immune cells are extracted from your tumor and used in this treatment. The most effective ones in fighting your cancer are chosen or modified in the lab, produced in vast quantities, and injected back into your body through a needle in a vein. Adoptive cell treatment, adoptive immunotherapy, and immune cell therapy are additional names for T-cell transfer therapy.
- Monoclonal antibodies (mABs) – Also called therapeutic antibodies. These are immune system protein replicas created by humans. In a lab, antibodies target an antigen (protein) specifically. For example, specific monoclonal antibodies identify cancer cells so the immune system can identify and eliminate them more easily. These drugs go after something on the cancer cells outside. This “marks” that cell for immune system destruction. These drugs may also function by inhibiting a cell-surface “receptor” required for cell proliferation.
- Immune system modulators – can strengthen the body’s defense against cancer. Some substances impact specific resistant system components, while others have a broader impact. For example, cytokines, BCG, and immunomodulatory medications are all immune system modulators.