NVFP Presents: The New Field of Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment
Immunotherapy has emerged as a groundbreaking approach in the fight against cancer. Join Dr. Ken Zweig and Dr. Jacob Ninan for an enlightening educational webinar to learn how harnessing the body’s own immune system can be a game-changer in the fight against cancer. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of immunotherapy’s role in cancer treatment and its potential to change lives.
Progression of cancer interventions
Dr. Ninan sets the stage by exploring the history of cancer treatments, dating all the way back to 1863. Cancer treatment has progressed rapidly over the past century, surging from a 35% survival rate in the 70s to a 68% survival rate today. Basic modern cancer treatments use a multimodal approach involving surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Earlier-stage cancers rely more on surgery and radiation, while chemotherapy is used to reduce the risk of recurrence and plays a greater role in later-stage cancers. At its most basic, conventional chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of actively dividing cancer cells. Normal healthy cells have rapid mechanisms to recover from the damage done by chemotherapy. But cancer cells divide much more rapidly, making them bigger targets for chemotherapy.
Immunology in cancer treatment
As technology and knowledge have advanced, we have learned more about the agents/mutations present in different types of cancer. This has allowed for the development of interventions that target specific receptors, meaning more effective, less intrusive treatments. But cancer cells have several mechanisms to evade the immune system and wreak havoc on the body. This is where immunology comes in. As Dr. Ninan explains, immunology essentially seeks to answer the following question: “How do we prevent cancer cells from evading our immune system, and can we ramp up the immune system to fight cancer?” The core immunological focus today is the ability of T-lymphocytes—cells that wipe out specific foreign antigens, like cancer cells—to distinguish between self and non-self antigens. If T-lymphocytes can properly recognize and kill invaders, the body can fight off cancer much more effectively.
Immunotherapy in practice
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps the body to identify and kill cancer cells. It can be used to treat many types of cancer, either in isolation or in combination with other treatment modalities like chemotherapy. Dr. Ninan explores the five main classes of immunotherapy: CTLA-4 inhibition, PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition, CAR-T therapy, bispecific t-cell engagers, and vaccine therapies. The former two are used extensively in cancer treatment, while the latter three are still in earlier stages of development. To conclude the town hall, Dr. Ninan describes what cancers we can use immunotherapy to treat. He also names the side effects of immunotherapy, which are rare and usually treatable with steroids. Immunotherapy for cancer treatment is a promising field that holds great potential for improving treatment tolerance and survival.