Using Immune Cells to Fight Cancer
Our immune system consists of the innate immunity we’re born with and the adaptive immunity that we acquire during our lifetime. Our immune systems function by creating antibodies that patrol the bloodstream in search of pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Medical researchers are studying ways that the immune system can be modified to “search and destroy” cancer cells.
An antibody is a type of protein manufactured by white blood cells that neutralizes a specific type of microbe or “tags” it for destruction by other parts of the immune system
A cell becomes cancerous when the genetic sequence of DNA in its nucleus becomes damaged. Cancer cells could grow out of control and disrupt the function of other healthy body cells. This could occur spontaneously, or could be caused by environmental factors, or simply by the aging process. Traditionally fought with chemotherapy or radiation, scientists are now developing immunotherapy treatments that modify a patient’s adaptive immune system to battle cancer:
- Antibodies can be created in a lab and used to target certain types of cancer
- Researchers have found ways to fight cancer cells that previously were able to avoid detection by the immune system
- A specialized vaccine could be created to target a specific cancer and prevent it from invading other parts of the body
A series of articles by health experts at Webmd.com explain the process of immunotherapy and the types of cancer it most effectively fights and even cures.