Immunotherapy: using your body’s natural defenses to fight cancer | Summary and Q&A

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June 3, 2018
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Stanford
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Immunotherapy: using your body’s natural defenses to fight cancer

TL;DR

Immunotherapy, the newest and most exciting area of cancer research, shows promise in treating various types of cancer by utilizing the body's immune system to fight tumors.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did immunotherapy evolve from its historical context?

Immunotherapy traces its origins back to the early 20th century when a surgeon named William Cooley attempted to treat cancer by inducing infections in patients. Although his methods were met with skepticism, his experiments laid the foundation for further research in the field.

Q: How does checkpoint blockade work in immunotherapy?

Checkpoint blockade is a type of immunotherapy that involves the use of antibodies to block the interaction between tumor cells and immune system inhibitory molecules. By doing so, it allows the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively.

Q: What are the advantages of immunotherapy over targeted chemotherapy?

Immunotherapy offers a more precise and targeted approach to cancer treatment as it harnesses the body's immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which can have toxic side effects, immunotherapy can lead to fewer adverse reactions.

Q: Can CAR T-cell therapy be used for patients with compromised immune systems?

CAR T-cell therapy involves engineering a patient's own T-cells to target and kill cancer cells. While it may not be suitable for patients with compromised immune systems, ongoing research is exploring the use of CAR T-cell therapy for autoimmune diseases.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Immunotherapy is a groundbreaking approach to cancer treatment that utilizes the immune system to target and kill cancer cells.

  • Research in immunotherapy has made significant progress, with over 26 immunotherapies approved by the FDA for 17 different types of cancer.

  • Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, a form of immunotherapy, has shown remarkable success in treating childhood leukemia.

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