Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. By stimulating and supporting the immune system, the body begins to fight the disease more aggressively. Immunotherapy is sometimes used as a single method or in combination with other treatments for maximum efficiency.

Our immune system protects us from things that are harmful. In the immune system T-cells have receptors that scan cells to distinguish between normal cells and abnormal cells (virus infected cells). Once detected, abnormal cells are attached and removed by T-cells. Cancer cells are normal cells that have mutated.  The more mutation they have, the more easily they are detected. Cancer cells can prevent elimination with a help of PD-L1 which deactivates T-cells’ scanning system. PD-L1 prevents T-cells from destroying cancer cells.

Types of immunotherapy:

Checkpoint inhibitors. The drugs work by removing molecular brakes that prevent T-cells from seeing cancer as a threat.

Monoclonal antibodies: They can be designed in the lab, once the antigen is identified. Antibodies then find the antigen on cancer cells and attack it.

Cancer Vaccines: Some vaccines can prevent or treat cancer.

Other methods are used to boost the immune system in a general way which can still help to attack cancer cells.

Immunotherapy drugs are used to treat many types of cancer. Immunotherapy is not a universal “cure”, but it is fast becoming a powerful new weapon alongside chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.