Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy, biological response modifier therapy, or biotherapy) uses the body's immune system to fight cancer.
The cells, antibodies, and organs of the immune system work to protect or defend the body against foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. Physicians and researchers found that the immune system may also be able to determine the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells in the body. It might then be used to eliminate the cancer cells.
Immune system cells that fight cancer include:
White blood cells, including B cells, T cells, and NK cells.
- B cells - become plasma cells that make antibodies or immunoglobulins
- T cells - produce cytokines, which control immune response
- NK cells - produce chemical substances that bind to and kill foreign invaders in the body
White blood cells that move into tissues and develop into macrophages, which, when needed, play a role in phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is a process in which some cells "eat" other cells or foreign invaders.
Biological Response Modifier (BRM) Therapy
Biological Response Modifiers or BRM's are substances that occur naturally in the body, such as cytokines or antibodies. They assist the body in fighting disease. BRMs can also be made in the laboratory. These created BRMs directly inhibit tumor cell growth, as well as assist the healthy cells in controlling the cancer. They have been successfully used in combination with each other and with other treatments. Some BRMs include:
- interferons (IFNs)
- interleukins (ILs)
- tumor necrosis factors (TNFs)
- colony-stimulating factors (CSFs)
- monoclonal antibodies (MAOBs)
- cancer vaccines