Cancer Immunotherapy: Types, Benefits, and Kinds of cancer treated with it – Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that encourages the work of the immune system to be more effective in fighting diseases, including cancer. This treatment can be administered via infusion, medication, topical cream, or injected directly into the bladder of cancer patients.
Immunotherapy is said to slow down, stop the development of cancer cells, as well as prevent them from spreading to other organs. A number of types of cancers, such as skin, lung, kidney, bladder, and lymphoma cancers, have been shown to be treated with immunotherapy. Some types of advanced cancer, such as stage 4 cervical cancer, can also sometimes be treated with immunotherapy.
Cancer Immunotherapy Types
There are several types of immunotherapy that can be used to treat cancer, including:
Checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that can inhibit immune work regulators called immune checkpoints. Immune checkpoints are basically a “brake” for the immune system not to work too strongly.
By inhibiting the immune brake or immune checkpoint, these immunotherapy drugs can encourage the immune system to work more optimally to combat cancer cells.
T cell transfer therapy or adaptive cell therapy
T cell transfer therapy encourages the natural ability of T cells to fight cancer. This therapy is done by taking immune cells present in the patient’s tumor, then selected and modified in the laboratory. The modified cells are injected back into the patient’s body to attack cancer cells.
Monoclonal antibodies are performed by proteins made in the laboratory to target cancer cells. This therapy can be beneficial because monoclonal antibodies can attack very specific cancer cells.
Cancer vaccines are given to strengthen the immune system’s response to attack cancer. Cancer vaccines are usually given to address or lower the risk of cancer cells reappearing after treatment with other therapies. However, cancer vaccines also have the potential to prevent certain types of cancer like regular vaccines.
Immunomodulators are a group of drugs that can improve immune function to overcome cancer. Some immunomodulatory drugs encourage a specific part of the immune system. Meanwhile, some other immunomodulators can boost the immune system in general.
This immunotherapy uses a small type of inter-cell messenger protein called cytokines – to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
As the name implies, this immunotherapy is done using a virus that has been modified in the laboratory. The virus will then infect and kill cancer cells.
Cancer Immunotherapy Benefits
As a medical breakthrough in cancer treatment, immunotherapy has the following potential benefits:
- It is potentially effective to treat certain cancers when other treatments do not work – such as in skin cancers that do not respond to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- It can synergize with other cancer treatments
- Have a less minimal risk of side effects than other treatments
- Lowering the risk of cancer reappears later in life because the immune system has the ability of immunomemory to remember previous cancer cells.
Types of cancer treated with immunotherapy
Currently immunotherapy that has been widely used is a check point inhibitor, one of which is anti PD-1. The mechanism of action of this anti-PD1 is to prevent the death of T lymphocyte cells due to the process of destruction by cancer.
PD-1 is part of the lymphocyte T cell, which is tasked with inducing the cell death program; in this case cancer cells. Naturally, the body has a mechanism to relieve PD-1 because if the activity is excessive, it can have a bad impact on the body. That’s why, some body cells are designed to have PD-L1 and PD-L2. When PD-1 binds to PD-L1 or PD-L2 ligands, T cells become inactive, resulting in unnecessary overreaction.
Unfortunately, this mechanism is successfully replicated by certain cancer cells. Some types of cancer also develop PD-L1 and/or PD-L2 ligands on the surface, so as to dampen the activity of T cells. This is one way of hiding from the pursuit of the immune system.
In some other cases such as kidney cancer and melanoma maligna, immunotherapy can be used without the PDL-1 test again because based on research proven good results. Predicted, nearly 100 percent of melanomas express PD-L1.