What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a medical term defined as a treatment effort to combat disease by inducing, enhancing or destroying the immune response. Various Immunotherapy efforts are designed to amplify or elicit an immune response. With regards to cancer treatment, immunotherapy treatments attempt to stimulate the immune system to first reject, and then destroy tumors.
Immunotherapy is similar to gene therapy in that both treatment options rely on biological mechanisms to impede the spread of cancer. The primary difference between these two cancer treatment options is that while gene therapy introduces foreign chemicals into the body, immunotherapy concentrates on bolstering the immune system to terminate the cancer.
Cancers, like mesothelioma, deceive the body into thinking cancerous cells are healthy. Because of this, the immune system does not activate itself to fight-off the disease. To effectively fight cancer, doctors will either destroy all rapidly-acting cells in the human body (cancerous or otherwise) or aid in the body’s ability to recognize cancerous cells.
How Does Immunotherapy Work Against Mesothelioma?
The chemicals utilized in immunotherapy treatment provoke the immune system’s response. These drugs, which are known as biological response modifiers, encourage the immune system to be more aware regarding alterations in cell types. Immunotherapy attempts to realign the immune system; the goal of the associated chemical is to force the body’s defense system from recognizing mesothelioma cells as malignant. After recognition, the immune system will naturally trigger an attack to terminate the cancerous cells.
The human body naturally produces biological response modifiers, but when cells undergo a cancerous transformation, the body’s natural response goes haywire. Cancers, such as mesothelioma, with prolonged malignancy, will irreparably alter the body’s natural defense system. Thus, to impede cancer’s malignant course and to bolster the body’s natural reaction, immunotherapy attempts to enhance the defense system to expedite the killing of cancers.
By stimulating the immune system, immunotherapy aims to prevent mesothelioma cancer from metastasizing into other tissue systems. Also, immunotherapy will regulate and suppress the body’s ability to develop new cancers. As research continues to progress, doctor’s hope that immunotherapy treatments can eventually reverse the replicative ability of cancerous cells.
What Types of Immunotherapy are Utilized to Eliminate Mesothelioma Cancer:
There are several different types of immunotherapy options used to combat mesothelioma. They include the following:
Interferon: This type of mesothelioma immunotherapy treatment inhibits the growth of cancer cells while simultaneously bolstering the immune system to combat the disease.
Antiangiogenics: This type of mesothelioma immunotherapy treatment inhibits the growth of blood vessels that supply mesothelioma tumors with the blood they need to survive.
Monoclonal Antibodies: This form of mesothelioma immunotherapy utilizes proteins to seek out and kill cancerous cells. These proteins can be programmed to discern irregular bodies that exist on the outer layers of cells.
Interleukin2: A type of mesothelioma immunotherapy that utilizes a bodily protein that is naturally occurring in the immune system. Interleukin2 is used to enhance the defense system’s normal mechanisms.
What to Know about Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma:
Mesothelioma immunotherapy is still in its infancy. This mesothelioma treatment options does no guarantee effective termination of cancerous cells. That being said, immunotherapy has proven effective in clinical trials and in some animal tests. The greatest hurdle regarding full efficacy stems from the natural behavior of mesothelioma—the cancer is so complicated and innocuous that is nearly impossible to distinguish its cells from healthy or undisturbed cells in the human body.