Are you someone who is totally new to the term cancer immunotherapy? In simple terms, it is a type of cancer treatment that makes use of a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.
5 Types Of Cancer Immunotherapy
First, let’s try to understand the five types of cancer immunotherapy.
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These are drugs that block immune checkpoints, thereby helping the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
- T-cell transfer therapy: This treatment works in such a way that it boosts the natural ability of T cells and fights cancer.
- Treatment vaccines: These vaccines boost the human immune system’s response to cancer cells.
- Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs or MoAbs): A man-made version of immune system proteins, monoclonal antibodies target a very specific part of a cancer cell and attack it.
- Immune system modulators: They focus on boosting the human body’s immune response against cancer.
Top 3 Pathbreaking Advances In Cancer Immunotherapy
With the help of fast-changing modern technologies, the field of cancer immunotherapy has made rapid strides. While speaking about the latest developments in this field, Philip D. Greenberg, MD, FAACR, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) President-Elect, opined that there will be an expansion in the use of combinations of agents that target independent cellular pathways and can work synergistically.
Let’s delve deep into the 3 latest advancements in cancer immunotherapy.
💠 Engineered Cell Therapies
Though this field of cancer therapy is still in the very early stages, the capacity to generate cells and provide them to patients is expanding at a never-before pace, thanks to the rapid advancement in technology.
A major development worth mentioning is that the researchers are now able to modify the cells to enhance their function and survival after they are infused into the patients. It also improves their ability to target the cancer.
💠 Adoptive Cell Therapies
With adaptive cell therapies, researchers can engineer very potent immune responses outside the human body. It is also possible to expand the cells that mediate those responses in huge numbers and infuse them into a person undergoing treatment to create a very potent, totally new immune response against a desired target. With the latest advancements, researchers can now dissect the cell composition of the tumor microenvironment in a better manner.
The other achievements include identifying the inhibitory signals that interfere with immune function and engineering cells to get rid of some of those barriers. Last but not least, the researchers are now able to turn such inhibitory signals into positive signals by rewiring how the cells perceive them. This is made possible by making use of how tumors evade immune responses.
💠 Advances In Cancer Vaccines
For the treatment of the COVID-19 virus, the mRNA vaccine technology proved to be quite effective. Though the same technology was used in cancer vaccines long ago, it has only been minimally successful in the initial stages.
However, with deep sequencing, quickly identifying the unique aspect of a patient’s cancer has now become a reality. It has led to the development of personalized vaccines that address those differences.
Having said that, the tough part is making the immune system respond to these vaccines. The reason is that by the time they are administered to patients, the tumor has already devised ways to turn off or evade the immune response.
Thus, the experts in the field are now researching how to make the vaccines more immunogenic. An example is applying cytokines and blocking certain inhibitory pathways.
Apart from the developments discussed above, some of the breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy include chimera antigenic receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, natural killer (NK) therapy, and tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy. They are being studied by some Indian companies and hospitals, and the outcome of phase 2 clinical trials shows promising results.
I hope you gained valuable insights about the emerging trends in the field of cancer immunotherapy. It is with the help of modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that researchers have been able to come up with these path-breaking innovations.
AI is also used to evaluate the possibilities of new and better combination therapies where more than one type of existing treatment is used along with immunotherapy for better results.