Updated on 28 August 2012
Cancer Immunotherapy - Tweaking the immune system to fight against cancer
Immunotherapy is a very active area of cancer research wherein the treatment makes the immune system fight against cancer. Scientists around the world are studying new ways to use immunotherapy to treat cancer. Some of these have been discussed here which are based upon various strategies, such as boosting the immune system to aggressively attack cancer cells, training the immune system to specifically and effectively attack cancer cells and driving the drugs to attack cancer cells among others.
What does the immune system do?
The immune system basically works by recognizing and fighting out any foreign substance invading or found in the body. But the immune system's normal ability to fight cancer is limited, because the cancer cells are not different enough from that of normal cells. To overcome this, researchers have designed ways to help the immune system recognize cancer cells and strengthen its response so that it will destroy them.
What's new in immunotherapy research?
Predictions for the future of cutting-edge antibody technologies for the treatment of various cancers are very high and robust growth will continue despite the many roadblocks and uncertainties in the overall picture of drug development. While the market will continue to be dominated by whole antibody molecules, it is anticipated that multi-specific antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates will be a growing component of the overall market.
Newer monoclonal antibodies
Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) have already become an important part of the treatment for many cancers and continuous effort is being made to develop MAbs for new targets. Newer forms of mAbs, such as multispecific antibodies and the antibody conjugates to make them more powerful, are also under advanced stage of development. The commercial clinical pipeline for antibodies is growing at a rate of 50-to-55 new mAbs per year. Today, about 314 mAb products are in clinical trials worldwide.
Multi-specific antibodies present a new edge technology platform for the disease treatment. There is substantial interest in multi-specific antibodies as a means to overcome some of the shortcomings of conventional recombinant antibodies that have slowed their successful performance and prevented FDA approval. Today, numerous multi-specific antibodies are in clinical trials and may provide a new generation antibodies. Researchers are mostly trying to target both the antigenic sites on the tumor as well as activating CD8+ T cell to specifically attack the cancer cells.