Immunotherapy : An approach to treat Cancer

Immunotherapy is getting popular now-a-days as it is a promising future treatment for cancer. Experts and pharma companies believe that within a few years a reliable cancer treatment will be available due to immunotherapy. Lack of side effects is also making it popular for clinical trials.

What is Immunotherapy ?

Immunotherapy is a way to empower our own immune system to detect and fight against a disease, which is normally ignored by our body due to some hiding techniques used by some virus, bacteria and cancer cells. Immunotherapy is treating a disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing the immune system response of a disease. Those diseases which threatened the man kind till now, might get a treatment in near future due to immunotherapy.

Most of us are familiar with vaccination that kids get during childhood. But what most of us don't know it that it is a type of immunotherapy which activates our immune system (by injecting some dead virus/bacteria) to develop antibodies which can fight against the actual virus/bacteria and sometimes give us a lifelong protection.

Types of Immunotherapy

Activation immunotherapies : Designed to elicit or amplify an immune response.
Suppression immunotherapies :  Reduce or suppress immune response.

Auto Immune Diseases, in which our body don't recognizes a body part and our immune system starts to destroy it, were one of the biggest challenges. Suppression immunotherapy can successfully deal with such situation. Around 7% US population is affected by at least one of the 80 types of auto-immune diseases. Women are more prone to such diseases.

When cancer starts developing in body, our immune system tries to kill those cancerous cells but gradually stops that procedure as cancerous cells imitate to be a part of body. Activation Immunotherapy stimulates and activates our immune response for those cancerous cells again and destroys cancerous tumors. Currently trials are being done on lab rats for success of this technique.
An example of cancer immunotherapy is the use of BCG vaccine for treating bladder cancer. Originally BCG vaccine was developed to fight against tuberculosis, but later researchers found that the same vaccine activates our immune response for bladder cancer.
When it comes to organ transplant, doctors often fear that the recipients immune system might reject the received organ, taking it as a foreign object. Usually immunosuppressant drugs are given in such cases, but now suppression immunotherapy can also be used  as it has comparatively lesser side effects.


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