What is Immunotherapy?

what is immunotherapy

Hey, we let you know what is immunotherapy? what are the side effects of immunotherapy? more further down into how immunotherapy works? And it’s advantages and disadvantages,

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In immunotherapy, specific parts of the immune system are used to fight cancer cells. Normally, the body's immune system effectively fights foreign or abnormal cells in the body.

However, while the immune system can often recognize the cancer cells via their cancer protein content, it does not respond adequately to the cancer cells.

This is because the cancer cells are adept at developing various mechanisms that can protect them against the immune system's attacks.

In short:

Immunotherapy is the type of cancer treatment that helps to boost your body's immune system and attack the cancer cells. Immunotherapy is a specific group of treatments called targeted therapy. Targeted or biological, which uses a patient's immune system to attack tumor cells more efficiently and effectively.

How Does Immunotherapy Work?

The immune system consists of cells, tissues, and organs that communicate with each other to protect the body. The immune system uses various ways to communicate with other cells to collect information about whether an 'abnormal' cell should be attacked or not.

Although the immune system often recognizes cancer cells via their protein content on the cancer cell surface, it does not respond adequately to the cancer cells.

This is because the cancer cells have found various methods to prevent the immune system from attacking them.

One way is to produce a protein called PD-L1. The protein can turn off communication between the immune system and the foreign cancer cells, thereby preventing the immune system from fighting them.

Immunotherapy activates the immune system to attack the cancer cells by blocking the PD-L1 protein's contact with the T cells in the immune system - either by inhibiting the PD-L1 protein or the PD1 recipient on the T cell - and thus the T the cell freely communicate to the immune system that it should go to attack.

Who can get immunotherapy?

What is right for you, is evaluating your doctor based on the type of lung cancer you have, whether you have specific gene mutations or biomarkers, that is, a protein on the surface of the cancer cell that can be measured if you have received treatment before, and how you generally feel.

For example, if you have an autoimmune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or pulmonary fibrosis, immunotherapy may not be right for you.

As part of your investigation, you will be offered to have a tissue test of the cancerous node.

The test can determine whether the cancer cells express PD-L1 and thus indicate whether you would benefit from immunotherapy.

Talk to your doctor about what to expect from the treatment.

Types of immunotherapy

The following are the common types of immunotherapy that have been approved for use in the scientific and traditional medical field:

Biological response modifiers:

They are substances that do not have a direct anti-cancer effect but are able to indirectly stimulate the immune system on tumors.

Among these modifiers are cytokines such as interferons and interleukins.

As mentioned above, this method of treatment includes giving the patient large quantities of these substances by injection or pouring in the hope of stimulating the cells of the immune system to work more effectively.

Catalysts for colonization:

Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow of the body, and the bone marrow is defined as the soft spongy substance inside the bone cavity.

There are three main types of blood cells: white blood cells that fight infections, red blood cells that transport oxygen and remove waste products outside the body’s systems and tissues, and blood platelets that help normalize blood clotting.

The mentioned blood cells, which put the patient in the risk circle of infections, anemia, and bleeding disorders.

As for the factors that stimulate colony formation, they are substances that stimulate the production of blood cells, and they have no direct effect on cancerous tumors.

Cancer vaccines:

Researchers are working to develop vaccines that may help stimulate the patient's immune system to distinguish cancer cells.

In theory, these vaccines work similarly to measles, mumps, and smallpox vaccines, but the difference with anti-cancer treatment lies in receiving these vaccines after a person has cancer in order to prevent cancer from returning again or to push the body to reject lumps or tumors.

Cancer, although this is much more difficult to prevent viral infection. Cancer vaccines are still under study, research, and clinical experience.

Monoclonal antibodies:

They are substances that are produced in medical laboratories and can determine the location of specific proteins and their binding to them by means of the anti-protein interaction of cancerous tumors on specific cell surfaces. 

Antibodies can be used to locate cancerous tumors in the body, or as a treatment method that is useful for transporting drugs, toxic substances, or radioactive materials directly to the cancerous tumor.

Monoclonal antibodies can be given to target specific molecules on the surface of the cell.

Examples of these antibodies are rituximab, which targets cancer cells in the lymph nodes, and Herceptin that targets specific cells, including breast cancer cells.

What are the side effects of immunotherapy?

Since this form of cancer therapy affects the immune system, an autoimmune reaction

- i.e. an overreaction of the body against the body's own substances - can occur. Some of these symptoms can be managed well with medication.

If this is not the case, patients can also expect an interruption or discontinuation of cancer therapy.

The following side effects can occur with immunotherapy, among others:

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomit

  • Fatigue

  • A headache

  • Rashes and itching on the skin

  • Inflammation of the intestine, liver, kidney, lungs or thyroid

  • Joint pain

What are the advantages and disadvantages of immunotherapy?

Immunotherapies open up a broad field for new therapeutic strategies in the fight against cancer.

They can be used to fight cancer much more effectively and therefore usually have fewer side effects than conventional therapies such as chemotherapy.

Another advantage is that immunological therapies are often effective for cancer types and stages of disease in which other therapeutic agents are insufficient or no longer helpful.

Treatment with the listed immunotherapies can lead to complete tumor control and prolong survival or healing.

However, the new immunotherapies have so far been very expensive.

In Austria, however, the costs are borne by health insurance companies.

Another weak point of this therapy is that it cannot be used for every type of cancer and that only some of the patients benefit from it.

However, studies suggest that the combination with different forms of immunotherapy or conventional cancer therapies could improve the success of treatment for cancer.

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