The immune system which we each have is restless and it’s important to understand how the immune system works. At every moment passing in your day, immune cells constantly monitor your body for disease, alerting for help when threats are noticed. The system we have in place works brilliantly. However, it’s far from perfect. If it was perfect, humans wouldn’t have diseases such as cancer.
A director of The University of Arizona Cancer Center Early Phase Clinical Trials Programmes mentions “The immune system is meant to attack tumours. But it doesn’t do so effectively”. Instead, the immune system is able to suppress early development. However, it only takes the rapid growth of abnormal cells to mature into cancer, multiply through the body and finally, end a life.
Tumours escape detection by the immune system. This is what causes doctors to consider Chemotherapy and Radiation treatment plans. These treatment plans come with many flaws, the worst being that in targeting cancer cells, healthy cells can be destructed in the process.
Thoughtfully, what if doctors didn’t need to choose these harmful treatment plans? Instead, what if Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment is a better alternative? Which is, to utilise the powers which come from the immune system, by teaching it to recognise, and then destroy cancer cells.
Dr Julie Bauman of the Cancer Center division chief of haematology and oncology states the idea of having an immune system that could do the job which “really appeals to people”.
Over time, the immune system has evolved to distinguish between viruses and bacteria. The ability of the immune system to identify the difference between both is what allows the system to maintain a healthy balance. An important part of the immune system are T cells, which travel through the bloodstream and are prepared to attack, seemingly, threatening cells. If a T cell detects a threat, it can call on antibodies in the bloodstream to join in removing the threat. When T Cells in the body notice “self cells” (such as each other) and “non self cells” such as a virus, they need this knowledge to equip them in knowing if it’s suitable to attack the cell or not. It can happen that our body’s T cells attacks self cells, leading to autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Battling cancer, however, isn’t so easy. They rise from our own cells, so T cells often misinterpret them as self cells and don’t attack. Ultimately, T cells are essential for our understanding of the immune system.
BOOSTING IMMUNE RESPONSE
Now, the focus is to create more precise tools which can improve the immune system’s ability to detect and fight cancer. Scientists are now able to turn antibodies into cancer fighting proteins. The scientists make alterations to these antibodies to target cancer cells. Then, these are placed into the body. Checkpoint inhibitors are able to alter the brain of the T cell, which is a great move forward.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
While it is true that Immunotherapy has been ongoing for some time, it is still relatively new compared to other conventional treatments. However, the biggest issue which faces some immunotherapy drug candidates is that there immune systems can become ‘overcharged’ and attack healthy cells.
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Source: University of Arizona