3 Questions to Understand Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy – treatment that use the immune system to fight diseases like cancer – is a hot topic in the news and medical research area in recent years. Some of the most promising advances in cancer research involve immunotherapies. Let’s take a closer look at this innovative approach and the recent discoveries in the field.

What is immunotherapy and why it is different?

When it comes to cancer treatment, we associate it with the terms like: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. These treatments use external forces to attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, is a treatment that use the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells by stimulating the immune system. It’s unique from other therapies.

How does immunotherapy work against cancer?

Immunotherapy works by using the body’s own immune system to fight infections and diseases such as cancer. Treatments focus on helping the immune system recognize cancer cells, as well as strengthening its response to destroy them. There are five different types of immunotherapies currently available for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, including: Checkpoint Inhibitors, T-cell Transfer Therapy, Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs), Cancer Vaccines, and Immune System Modulators.

  • Checkpoint Inhibitors: These drugs block certain immune checkpoints that would otherwise activate to prevent an immune response from being too strong. With the immune checkpoints blocked, immune cells are able to respond more strongly to the presence of cancer cells in the body.
  • T-cell Transfer Therapy: This therapy enhances the ability of the body’s T cells to fight cancer. Immune cells are extracted from the tumor and those identified as the most active against the tumor are further modified in the lab to better attack the cancer cells. Once the lab has grown enough cells, the cells are injected back into the body to fight the disease.
  • Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs): mAbs are lab-created immune system proteins that are designed to bind to specific targets on cancer cells. These proteins “mark” the cancer cells, allowing them to be more easily recognized (and destroyed) by the immune system.
  • Cancer Vaccines: These vaccines are administered to help kick-off an immune response against certain cancers. They work by boosting the immune system’s response to the cancer cells.
  • Immune System Modulators: These special drugs boost specific parts of the body’s immune system to help treat certain cancers.

What is the current research in immunotherapy?

Current research in the field is aimed at uncovering solutions to immunotherapy resistance, identifying ways to predict patients’ responses to immunotherapy, learning more about how cancer cells avoid detection by the immune system, and developing ways to reduce the side effects associated with immunotherapy treatments.

AFCR has also been proud to support immunotherapy research that shows highly encouraging results to become new treatments, led by world-renowned antibody engineering experts and scientists. Including:

Immunotherapy is one of the most promising cancer treatments of our time. Your support of AFCR will enable scientists to develop novel, safe and effective immunotherapeutic approaches to treating cancers. Please take a moment to make the most generous contribution you can today.