WHAT IS IMMUNO-ONCOLOGY AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM TARGETED THERAPY?
The latest exciting research breakthrough for cancer treatment is in the field of immuno-oncology. This form of treatment uses or enhances the patient’s own immune system to be able to stop the growth of cancer cells. For example, many NSCLC cells have molecules on the surface of tumor cells known as PD-L1. Patients have immune cells that fight disease known as “T-cells.” T-cells usually recognize cancer cells as being foreign and attack the cells. However, if a cancer cell has the PD-L1 molecule on its surface, the T-cell no longer recognizes it as abnormal. Drugs that block this molecule make the cell visible to T-cells so it can now be attacked.
Other immunotherapy and immuno-oncology treatments are also in development that enhance a person’s immune response against their cancer such as cancer-killing bacteria and viruses, gene therapies and adoptive cell transfer.