gene therapyBiological therapy - a treatment that has an effect on the processes in the cells. There are several types of this therapy:

  1. Blocks cell division and the further growth of cancer cells.
  2. Locates the cancer cells and destroys them.
  3. It affects the immune system, stimulating it to attack the cancerous cells.

There are several biological therapies names:

  1. Biological response modifiers.
  2. Biological agents.
  3. Therapy Targeted .
  4. Immunotherapy.

Will recommended biological therapy depends on the type of cancer, stage of disease, the applied treatments. Many types of biological therapy are all still experimental. This treatment is not suitable for all types of cancer. But in some cases, biological therapy may be the best option.

Immunotherapy - a type of biological therapy. It uses substances produced by the body's immune system. They help him fight off infections and diseases. Other types of biological therapy used substances that also have a natural basis, but are not part of the immune system.

Biological therapies can be quite confusing. While there is no simple way of grouping, which are easy to follow. Some drugs are combined in accordance with their effect - for example, inhibit the growth of malignant cells. Other groups include a certain type of medication - monoclonal antibodies directed to specific proteins of cancer cells. There are drugs that belong to more than one group. For example, a drug that blocks the development of pathological cells, but at the same time is a monoclonal antibody.

For the patient, it is important to know the problem of treatment and possible side effects.

Types of biological therapy

monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies - a type of biological therapy. Monoclonal means - one type. Thus, each monoclonal antibody - a plurality of copies of one type of antibody. They are made in the laboratory.

How does the monoclonal antibody?

Antibodies recognize and align themselves with specific proteins that produce the cells. Each monoclonal antibody identifies only one specific protein. They work in different ways depending on the protein to which the target. They are designed to work with various types of cancer.

Currently, many monoclonal antibodies available for treatment of cancer, many are on the verification step under clinical trials. For these products the characters are different side effects.

Monoclonal antibodies act differently, some of them more than one way.

The launch of the immune system

Specific antibodies to stimulate the immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells. Despite the fact that the cancer cells are abnormal, they are developed from healthy, so the immune system can be difficult to recognize them. Some antibodies are simply attached to the cancer cells, facilitating the work of the immune system.

Blocking molecules stops the operation of immunity

Also referred to as inhibitors of the checkpoint. The immune system uses specific molecules that prevent the destruction of healthy cells. They are called checkpoint. Some cancer cells produce these molecules, they deactivate the immune system in the form of T-cells that attack cancer cells. Drugs that inhibit these molecules are called inhibitors of the checkpoint. They are a type of immunotherapy in cancer and include drugs that block CTLA-4, PD-1 and PD-L1.

Blocking signals, reporting about the division of cancer cells

Malignant cells often produce a large number of molecules called growth factor receptors. They are on the surface of cells and sends signals that help them to survive and divide. Some monoclonal antibodies inhibit the growth factor receptor blocking signal or the receptor itself. Therefore, malignant cells do not receive more than a signal that has need.

Delivery of anti-cancer drugs or radiation to the tumor

Some monoclonal antibodies are joined chemotherapy or radiation. An antibody is a cancer cell and delivers the drug directly thereto or radiation.

All the monoclonal antibodies in the title are 'mab' (monoclonal antibodies):

  • Trastuzumab (Herceptin)
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • Rituximab (MabThera)

Treatment is usually carried out intravenously, through an IV. The frequency and number of treatments depends on the type of monoclonal antibodies and type of tumor.

Common side effects

All drugs have unwanted effects. They may depend on cell type, which are aimed at; on whether the antibody carries chemotherapy drug or radiation.

The most common side effect of the monoclonal antibody is an allergic reaction to the drug. It usually takes place at the beginning of therapy. To prevent the used reaction paracetamol or an antihistamine for the treatment.

An allergic reaction may include the following symptoms:

  • chills;
  • fever;
  • rash or itching;
  • nausea;
  • shortness of breath;
  • headache;
  • fainting;
  • change in blood pressure.

Vaccines against cancer

Vaccines can help protect the body from infections and diseases. But also they are used for the treatment and prevention of some cancers. Vaccines deliver small amounts of protein in the body. Depending on the vaccine proteins can be viruses, bacteria or cancer cells, but they can not cause disease.

The immune system recognizes vaccine proteins that differ from their own proteins and sets the attack against them. Leukocytes produce proteins - antibodies that recognize certain proteins in the vaccine. The antibodies are attached to proteins and help to bring them out of the body. Some antibodies still remain in the body. If it is exposed to the same proteins in the future, he quickly identifies them and begins to create the desired antibodies.

There are two types of vaccines for cancer - to prevent and to treat.

Vaccines for the prevention of cancer

Currently there is only one vaccine that prevents cancer. It can prevent the development of cervical cancer by protecting against the human papillomavirus (TCG). It is known that the virus causes changes that can lead to this type of cancer. If a woman is vaccinated before she is exposed to the virus, the risk of developing cervical cancer is very low.

There are a large number of tests on the use of vaccines to prevent other types of cancer, but they are still at the research stage.

Vaccines for treatment of cancer

This type of vaccine is aimed at training the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. They help:

  • stop the further growth of the tumor;
  • prevent relapse;
  • destroy any remaining cells after the application of other methods.

colony stimulating factors

Colony stimulating factors, also known as growth factors. These substances are also produced by the body, there are several types. Some of them stimulate the bone marrow to create certain types of blood cells. Currently, there is an opportunity to create some of them in the laboratory.

In the treatment of cancer, doctors may turn to therapy called granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) following chemotherapy, to restore the levels of blood cells. There are various types of these drugs:

  • Lenograstim (Granocyte)
  • Filgrastim (Neupogen, Zarzio, Nivestim, Ratiograstim)
  • Pegfilgrastim or Neulasta - a form of filgrastim, but prolonged exposure.

Researchers are studying the question of the use of certain growth factors as a biological therapy. GM-CSF (granulocyte and macrophage colony stimulating factor) - growth factor that increases the amount of certain types of leukocytes - neutrophils and monocytes. It also stimulates dendritic cells to divide. These cells help the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Thus, researchers have used GM-CSF, along with other types of biological therapy to increase the number of dendritic cells, as well as a vaccine for the treatment of certain cancers.

This therapy is carried out in a pilot study. In trials in patients increased the number of dendritic cells after the vaccine. But it is not known whether this affects cancer. The tests were conducted with the participation of a small number of patients, mostly with melanoma.

Immunotherapy in Oncology - interferon and interleukin

Interferon and interleukin - a substance produced by the body's cells to communicate with each other. This protein, which belongs to a group of chemicals called cytokines.

Interferon and interleukin can stimulate the immune system, so doctors had established their man-made version of the treatment of cancer. By the principle of operation of these drugs is called immunotherapy.

Interferon and interleukin work in several directions:

  • It interferes with the methods of division and proliferation of cancer;
  • It stimulates the immune system - T-cells and other - to attack the malignant cells;
  • stimulate cancer cells to produce substances that attract them to the immune system cells.

Indications for use of alpha interferon

Physicians use of alpha interferon in the treatment of malignant tumors of different kinds:

  • kidney cancer;
  • melanoma;
  • multiple myeloma;
  • some types of leukemia.

The drug enters the body via intravenous drip, as well as subcutaneously. The frequency of application depends on the type of cancer. In most cases, interferon given three times a week, but sometimes on a daily basis in the form of injections.

Indications for interleukin

Interleukin-2 is also called aldesleukin (or IL2, or Proleukin). Most often it is used to treat kidney cancer. In a clinical trial it also involved other types of cancer. For administration into the body using subcutaneous injections, drip. The frequency of application depends on the type of cancer.

Side effects

Some of the undesirable effects of therapy with interferon and interleukin-2 may include:

  • fatigue;
  • flu-like symptoms;
  • diarrhea;
  • low levels of blood cells;
  • nausea;
  • loss of appetite;
  • Interleukin can cause low blood pressure.

gene therapy

Genes encode messages that convey the information to cells, how to create proteins. Proteins - are molecules that control the behaviors of cells. Thus, genes decide how it will look like a man, how to work the body. The human body has thousands of individual genes.

Genes are composed of DNA, are located in the cell nucleus. Core - is the control center of the cell. Genes uniting in groups, create a chromosome. Man inherits half of chromosomes from mother, half - from his father.

Cancer cells differ from healthy. They have mutations or errors in several genes, resulting in too frequent their division and tumor formation. Genes that may be damaged:

  • genes stimulate cells to proliferate (known as oncogenes);
  • genes stopping cell division (tumor suppressor genes);
  • genes that restore damaged genes.

Damage genes and cancer

Many mutations in genes that result in the creation of cancer cells are due to environmental or lifestyle factors such as smoking. But some people inherit defective genes that increase the risk of certain cancers. Inherited damaged genes can become a cause of cancer in 2-3 out of 100 people.

Gene therapy - a type of treatment that uses genes for the therapy of diseases. The researchers hope that some types of gene therapy can cure cancer.

The introduction of genes into cancer cells

The introduction of genes into cancer cells - one of the most challenging aspects of gene therapy. Researchers are working hard to find new effective ways to accomplish this task. Genes are typically delivered to a cancer cell using the carrier or the carrier, which is also called a vector. The most common types of carrier are used in gene therapy - viruses as they enter into the cell and deliver genetic material. Viruses change so that they could not cause serious disease, only mild symptoms.

Modified viruses can be directed only to the cancer cells, but not healthy. They only carry the gene into the cancer cells.

Researchers are testing other types of media, such as inactivated bacteria.

Types of gene therapy

Scientists are studying various ways to apply gene therapy, including:

  • enhancement of the immune response;
  • increasing the effectiveness of other cancer therapies;
  • interlocking processes that protect the cancer cells;
  • the use of modified viruses.

Enhancement of immune response

Some types of gene therapy aimed at improving the natural ability of the body to attack the cancer cells. The human immune system has cells which recognize and kill harmful substance that can cause diseases such as cancer cells.

There are many different types of immune cells. Some of them produce proteins that activate the immune cells to destroy malignant. Others add the genes of immune cells to improve the quality of search of pathological cells or destroy certain types of cancer.

Improving the effectiveness of other cancer therapies

Some drugs gene therapy introducing genes into cancer cells to make them more sensitive to specific procedures - to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. They increase the effectiveness of other therapies.

Pro gene therapy drug

Some types of gene therapy deliver genes into cancer cells, enabling conversion of the drug from an inactive to an active form. The inactive form of the drug called Pro.

After providing a support containing a gene, the physician gives the patient the drug in the form of tablets or capsules entering the bloodstream. It circulates in the body and does not harm healthy cells, however, reaching the cancer, the gene activates the drug and kills the cell.

Blocking processes that protect cancer cells

Some drugs block the processes that use cancer cells to survive. For example, most of the cells in the body are programmed to die when their DNA is damaged and can not be restored. This process is called programmed cell death or apoptosis. However, cancer cells manage to block this process. Some strategies of gene therapy focused on the removal of such blocking. Researchers hope that new treatments will be able to ensure the death of malignant cells.

The use of modified viruses

Certain viruses infect and destroy cells. Researchers are working on ways to change these viruses so that they were aimed only at the cancerous cells without harming healthy. With this form of treatment is not activated introduction of genes. Therefore, in the true sense of the word this is not the gene therapy.

One such example - the herpes virus. The modified virus called Oncovex. It has been studied in clinical trials in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, pancreatic cancer, and head and neck cancer.

Questions that you can ask your doctor for a biological therapy:

  • Why is invited to biological therapy in an individual case?
  • What type of biological therapy will be used?
  • Are there other treatment options for the specific case of illness?
  • Will there be other treatment at the same time?
  • Is it safe to biological therapies?
  • What would be the advantages of biological therapy?
  • Do I need any hospitalization during treatment?
  • How many will take therapy?
  • What side effects might be?
  • How long will the side effects last?
  • Will the long-term side effects?
  • Is there anything that can help with side effects?

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