Types of Immunotherapies
Immunotherapy is the treatment of disease by activating or suppressing the immune system. Immunotherapies designed to elicit or amplify an immune response are classified as activation immunotherapies, while immunotherapies that reduce or suppress are classified as suppression immunotherapies.
In recent years, immunotherapy has become of great interest to researchers, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies, particularly in its promise to treat various forms of cancer.
Immunomodulators: Immunomodulators are the active agents of immunotherapy. They are a diverse array of recombinant, synthetic, and natural preparations.
Cancer: Cancer treatment used to be focused on killing or removing cancer cells and tumors, with chemotherapy or surgery or radiation. These treatments can be very effective and in many cases are still used. In 2018 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.” Cancer immunotherapy attempts to stimulate the immune system to destroy tumors. A variety of strategies are in use or are undergoing research and testing. Randomized controlled studies in different cancers resulting in significant increase in survival and disease free period have been reported and its efficacy is enhanced by 20–30% when cell-based immunotherapy is combined with conventional treatment methods.
Immune enhancement therapy: Autologous immune enhancement therapy use a person's own peripheral blood-derived natural killer cells, cytotoxic T lymphocytes, epithelial cells and other relevant immune cells are expanded in vitro and then reinfused. The therapy has been tested against Hepatitis C, Chronic fatigue syndrome and HHV6 infection.
Suppression immunotherapies: Immune suppression dampens an abnormal immune response in autoimmune diseases or reduces a normal immune response to prevent rejection of transplanted organs or cells.
Immunosuppressive drugs: Immunosuppressive drugs help manage organ transplantation and autoimmune disease. Immune responses depend on lymphocyte proliferation. Cytostatic drugs are immunosuppressive. Glucocorticoids are somewhat more specific inhibitors of lymphocyte activation, whereas inhibitors of immunophilins more specifically target T lymphocyte activation. Immunosuppressive antibodies target steps in the immune response. Other drugs modulate immune responses.
Immune tolerance: The body naturally does not launch an immune system attack on its own tissues. Immune tolerance therapies seek to reset the immune system so that the body stops mistakenly attacking its own organs or cells in autoimmune disease or accepts foreign tissue in organ transplantation. Creating immunity reduces or eliminates the need for lifelong immunosuppression and attendant side effects. It has been tested on transplantations, and type 1 diabetes or other autoimmune disorders.
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