Here’s what you need to know about immunotherapy for cancer treatment.
The idea of using the body’s immune system to fight cancer has been around for a century, but only in the past half a dozen years have dramatic breakthroughs begun rocking the medical world.
“That’s when the tsunami came,” says Drew Pardoll, director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunology at Johns Hopkins University, and those advances are spawning hundreds of clinical trials nationwide, plus generating intense interest from patients, physicians and investors. Yet researchers remember the past anti-cancer efforts that fizzled after initially showing promise — which explains why most say daunting hurdles and years of perseverance are still ahead.
Here’s a primer about the new treatments and how they work:
What is cancer immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a significantly different approach from conventional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. The latter attack the malignancy itself, while immunotherapy aims to empower the immune system to kill it.
Because of the immune system’s unique power, says the nonprofit Cancer Research Institute, this therapy could prove a formidable weapon against many kinds of cancer and offer long-term protection with reduced side effects.
|Read Full Article: Cancer immunotherapy is moving fast. Here’s what you need to know. – The Washington Post|