What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy relies on the use of the immune system to remove cancer cells from the body, as it usually does for bacteria or viruses. This therapy teaches the immune system to identify and destroy tumor cells.
Immunotherapy represents a major hope in the fight against cancer. Although improvements are still needed, the many immunotherapy studies are doing very well. Several treatments are already available. This therapy is never used alone for first-line use, but can nevertheless help eradicate the tumor.
For several years, various avenues have been explored to stimulate the immune system like:
Injection of the anti-tuberculosis vaccine which is known to stimulate immunity;
Collection of lymphocytes, their multiplication in the laboratory and their re-injection to the patient;
Injection of cytokines (chemical messengers) capable of stimulating the immune system. However, they can cause high fevers.
Studies have also been conducted on cancer cell modification. These were rendered harmless by laboratory irradiation and then re-injected into the patient. The challenge was to modify the cell sufficiently to stimulate immunity without altering it too much so that it does not differ too much from other cancer cells. Through this method, they remain recognizable from the immune system.
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