Immunotherapy: A New Weapon In The Fight Against MesotheliomaImmunotherapy: A New Weapon In The Fight Against Mesothelioma

The best weapon to fight any disease of the human body is certainly the immune system. The immune system is an elaborate defense against all types of invasions from the outside (bacteria, viruses and foreign substances). The immune agents not only prevent external agents to penetrate the body, they also neutralize them, if they do succeed in getting in. This system is sophisticated enough to recognize a harmful substance, to initiate action against it and to remember that substance so that later responses can be faster.

Immunotherapy involves the use of the patient's own immune system to help fight off mesothelioma. Under normal circumstances, the body does not recognize cancer cells as being foreign. Therefore, the immune system does not normally attack tumors since they have the same cellular make-up as the other cells in the body. Immunotherapy aims at tricking it into believing that cancer cells are foreign. The system would therefore initiate an immune response against the tumor cells while leaving the normal cells unharmed.

How does immunotherapy work?

The immune system distinguishes between the body's cells and foreign cells by way of antigens. An antigen is a molecule that is present on all living cells, whether human, bacterial or viral. The body recognizes its own antigens and rejects cells that have foreign antigens. Immunotherapy aims at making the system recognize the antigens on tumor cells as being foreign.

Types of Immunotherapy

There are three types of immunotherapy:

(i) Active: which stimulate the body's own defenses (vaccines)

(ii) Passive: which involves manufacturing components of the immune system outside the body and inserting them in the bloodstream (e.g. antibodies)

(iii) Non-specific: strengthens the immune system in general.

Active Immunotherapy

Cancer vaccines are still experimental but they offer immense promise. There are several types of such vaccines:

(i) Tumor cell vaccines: whole cells that have been removed from a patient and treated with chemicals and/or genes so that they are more recognizable to the immune system. When injected back into the patient, the immune system will attack all cells that have the same antigens.

(ii) Antigen vaccines: using antigens rather than whole cells. Each type of cancer has its own type of antigen. Antigens can be mass produced and inserted into several patients.

(iii) Vector-based vaccines: this makes use of bacteria or virus to insert the antigen in the body.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

This is a passive treatment that involves the production of antibodies in lab. The monoclonal antibodies can be conjugated with a chemotherapy drug or radioactive material. When the antibodies are released in the bloodstream, they will seek out cells which have the target antigens. They will attach to these cells and deliver their payload or directly affect the cell on their own accord. This is a method of delivering the drug directly to the site of interest without harming adjacent tissues. Although, there are some side effects (allergic reactions, chills, fever, headache, nausea...etc.), they are very mild compared to those produced by traditional chemotherapy drugs.
by Jason Bacot
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Jason Bacot - Are you looking for more information on Mesothelioma and want to find out exactly what the Mesothelioma Symptoms are? Then I suggest you check us out online at MesotheliomaMedical.com immediately!
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