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Updated: Mar 14, 2023

What is immunotherapy? Immunotherapy is a type of medical treatment that helps the body's immune system fight disease, such as cancer. It works by either boosting the body's natural immune response or by introducing artificial components, such as immune cells or antibodies, to help the body target and destroy diseased cells. There are several different types of immunotherapy, including:

  • Monoclonal antibodies: Artificial proteins that mimic the immune system's natural antibodies and can help target and destroy cancer cells.

  • DCVax-L is a personalised vaccine made from each patient’s own dendritic cells – a type of cell that helps the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells.

  • Checkpoint inhibitors: Drugs that help remove the "brakes" that cancer cells can use to evade the immune system.

  • Cytokine therapy: Drugs that help stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.

  • Cancer vaccines: Drugs that help train the immune system to recognize and attack specific cancer cells.

  • Adoptive cell therapy: A type of immunotherapy that involves removing immune cells from the body, modifying them in the laboratory to better target cancer cells, and then infusing them back into the patient.

Immunotherapy has shown promise in the treatment of several types of cancer, including melanoma, lung cancer, kidney cancer, and some types of brain tumours.

Photo credit: Science Direct

However, it is not a cure for all cancers and not all patients respond to immunotherapy. Additionally, like all medical treatments, immunotherapy can have side effects, and it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare provider.


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