What do you need to know about Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is also reckoned as immuno-oncology and is a type of treatment for cancer that uses the power of the immune system of the body in order to prevent, eliminate and control cancer. Immunotherapy oncology can make the immune system educated in order to identify and attack particular types of cancer cells. It can further strengthen the immune cell in order to assist them in eliminating cancer and protect the body by adding components in order to improve its response.


How Does Immunotherapy Work?

Immunotherapy or oncology uses certain parts of the immune system in order to combat cancer. This can be executed in different ways, including -
● Making substances inside a lab that are similar to the components of the immune system and using them to improve or restore the way your immune system functions in order to identify and attack cancer cells.
● Boosting or stimulation, the natural defenses of the immune system; therefore, it works smarter or stronger to identify and attack cancer cells.
Advancement in technologies and medical practices has made immunotherapy one of the important treatments for certain cancer treatments.


What Are The Types Of Immunotherapy?

Following are the types of immunotherapy treatment that doctors leverage to treat different types of cancer:


● Immune Checkpoint inhibitors

These are defined as the drugs that release the brake on the immune system and protect it from attacking the healthy cells. They tend to block proteins. PD-L1, PD-1, and CTLA-4 on the immune cells' surface in order to allow these cells to fight only the cancerous cells.


PD-L1 Inhibitors

● Durvalumab (Imfinzi)
● Avelumab (Bavencio)
● Atezolizumab (Tecentriq)


PD-1 Inhibitors

● Cemiphlimab (Libtayo)
● Nivolumab (Opdivo)
● Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)


CTLA-4 Inhibitors

● Ipilimumab (Yervoy)


Monoclonal Antibodies

Antibodies are known as a protein of the immune system. They identify and stick to other forms of proteins reckoned as antigens on the cancer cells. These antibodies recruit other immune system parts to destroy cancer. These antibodies can be made in the lab and are known as monoclonal antibodies, and they function in multiple ways. For instance, naked monoclonal antibodies boost the response of the immune system to cancer or block antigens that speed up the growth and spread of cancer.


Cancer Vaccines

Vaccines leverage your immune system to protect or treat cancer. These are made using dead cancer cells, pieces of proteins from the immune system cells, or cancer cells. As of now, four vaccines have been approved to protect against cancer that includes -
● Gardasil-9, Gardasil, and Cervarix prevent the human papillomavirus. It is associated with cancers of the throat, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, and vulva.
● Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) (HEPLISAV-B) prevents HBV infections that can lead to liver cancer.
● Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) treats bladder cancer at the early-stage.
● Talimogenelaherparepvec (T-VEC) combats melanoma skin cancer.
● Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) protects advanced prostate cancer; if the hormone therapy does not work.
● CAR T-Cell Therapy - In this, the doctor adds special receptors in order to T-cells surface so they can block and destroy cancer. Tisagenlecleucel and Axicabtagene are the only two FDA approved CAR T-cell therapies.


Oncolytic Virus Therapy

Viruses such as flu infect cells and make people sick. These types of viruses are a special type that infects as well as kills cancer cells while not impacting the healthy cells. Presently, there is only one oncolytic virus if approved by the FDA, which is known as talimogenelatherparepvec, in order to treat metastatic melanoma.


Adoptive Cell Therapies

This treatment targets to remove the immune cells and either enhance their numbers or make changes to them in the lab. This is done in order to identify and determine more cancer cells. The treatments in this group include -

● Engineered T-Cell Receptor Therapy (TCR): T cells are robust white blood cells from the blood and further reprograms them in a lab. The engineered T-cells seek tiny targets on the cancer cells' surface.

● Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocyte Therapy (TIL): T-cells are robust white blood cells that combat infections. The doctors tend to remove T-cells that have begun to attack the grown tumor. They develop a significant batch of the cells known as the tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in the lab. Moreover, they place these activated fighters back to the body.

The FDA is yet to approve TCR therapies. These treatments are being tested in patients with specific forms of sarcoma and late-stage melanoma skin cancer.