Sunday, January 7, 2024

How does immunotherapy work in treating cancer?.. Immune checkpoint inhibitors. CAR-T cell therapy. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy. Monoclonal antibodies. Cancer vaccines

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that harnesses the power of the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. The immune system is naturally equipped with mechanisms to identify and eliminate abnormal cells, including cancer cells. However, cancer cells can sometimes evade detection and suppress immune responses.

Immunotherapy works by either enhancing the immune system's ability to recognize cancer cells or by blocking the mechanisms that cancer cells use to evade immune detection.

Types of immunotherapy:

There are several types of immunotherapy used to treat cancer, including:

1. Immune checkpoint inhibitors:

Certain proteins on immune cells, called checkpoints, act as brakes to prevent excessive immune responses. Cancer cells can exploit these checkpoints to avoid being attacked by the immune system. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that block these checkpoints, allowing the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively.

2. CAR-T cell therapy:

CAR-T cell therapy involves genetically modifying a patient's own T cells (a type of immune cell) to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) on their surface. These CARs enable the T cells to recognize specific proteins on cancer cells. Once infused back into the patient, the modified T cells can target and destroy cancer cells.

3. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy:

TIL therapy involves isolating immune cells, called TILs, from a patient's tumor. These TILs are then expanded in the laboratory and infused back into the patient. The expanded TILs can recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively.

4. Monoclonal antibodies:

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced molecules that can target specific proteins on cancer cells. They can work by directly attacking cancer cells, blocking the signals that promote cancer growth, or by marking cancer cells for destruction by the immune system.

5. Cancer vaccines:

Cancer vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system's response against cancer cells. They can be made from cancer cells, specific proteins found on cancer cells, or genetic material from cancer cells. By introducing these substances into the body, vaccines can trigger an immune response targeted at eliminating cancer cells.

Promising results:

Immunotherapy has shown significant promise in treating various types of cancer and has led to durable responses and improved survival rates for some patients. However, it's important to note that not all patients respond equally to immunotherapy, and its effectiveness can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer.