Biotherapies are diverse in nature and each modality works on a slightly different premise, but each is a form of re-educating or stimulating the body's own system to fight disease more effectively. Cancer therapies of a biological nature use modified or stimulated cells from either the cancer or the patient; or a controlled modification in the process of how those two types of cells interact.
Biological Response Modifiers
(BRMs) - work on boosting the body's immune system. The majority of BRMs are classified as cytokines . BRMs are used not only to inhibit tumor growth, but also to alter the interaction between the cancer and the body's defense mechanism. These include:
» Hematopoietic growth factors (HGFs) - includes colony stimulating factors (CSF), which encourage the growth of bone marrow stem cells.
» Interleukin (ILs) - these naturally occurring lymphokines can stimulate activity and growth of the body's immune cells, such as lymphocytes.
» Interferon (IFNs) - these naturally occurring cytokines boost the body's immune response and act directly on cancer cells to control their rapid growth.
» Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) - antibodies that are produced in a laboratory setting by injecting cancer cells into mice and extracting the cells that make antibodies to fight off the cancer. These cells are then attached to immortal cells to create a cell that will attack the cancer when re-injected into the patient.
» Vaccines - used to stimulate the bodies own immune system. They also prevent cancer cells from returning.
Nonspecific Immunomodulating Agents
» Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) - stimulates inflammatory and immune responses.
» Levamisole - works on boosting the immune system.
NCI - treating cancer with vaccine therapy.
NCI - using the immune system to treat cancer.