A breakthrough in the battle against cancer has progressed to a new type of therapy called Immunology. Immunology is a treatment that uses specific parts of an individual’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. The immune system is an intricate collection of organs, cells, and substances that help protect from harmful infections and diseases. Immune cells and the substances they make travel through the body, protecting it from germs that cause infections, as well as helping protect the body from cancer in some ways. The immune system keeps track of all the substances usually found in the body. New substances that the immune system doesn’t recognize raises concern, and causes the immune system to attack it. The immune system sees “foreign” objects and attacks them to protect the body. The response can destroy anything containing the foreign substance, such as germs or cancer cells.
Cancer immunotherapy uses a person’s immune system to fight cancer by stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells, and by giving your immune system components such as man-made immune system proteins. This type of therapy is also referred to as biologic therapy or biotherapy. Immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancers over the last few decades, however, newer types of immune treatments are now being studied and will impact cancer treatment in the future.
Immunotherapy works better for some types of cancers than for others and usually works more efficiently when used with other types of cancer treatment. Targeting cancer cells is a challenge for the immune system because the cancer starts when cells become altered and grow abnormally. Sometimes, the immune system does not recognize cancer cells as foreign. To help solve this problem, researchers have found ways to help the immune system identify cancer cells and strengthen its response so that it will destroy them.
Another form of immunotherapy is immune checkpoint inhibitors, drugs that basically take the “brakes” off the immune system
The current methods of immunotherapy to treat cancer includes monoclonal antibodies, which are man-made versions of immune system proteins. Antibodies can be very efficient in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell. Another form of immunotherapy is immune checkpoint inhibitors, drugs that basically take the “brakes” off the immune system, which helps detect and attack cancer cells. Lasty, a common method of immunology are cancer vaccines. Vaccines are substances put into the body to start an immune response against certain diseases.
Sean Parker, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, is the president of The Parker Foundation which focuses on Life Sciences, Global Public Health, and Civic Engagement. Through a $600 million gift by Sean Parker, the foundation was built upon Sean’s historical philanthropy and capitalizes on his pioneering work. In 2005, Parker became an active donor to cancer research and pledged a $5 million grant to Stand Up to Cancer and the Cancer Research Institute to create the Immunotherapy Dream Team, uniting the laboratory and clinical efforts that will lead to the immunological treatment, control, and prevention of cancer.