Immune system and cancer
Our immune system recognizes and fights cancer cells. The cells of the immune system (immune cells) are not always able to detect and eliminate cancer cells.
Cancer cells use certain strategies to evade recognition and attack by the immune system (immune response). Specialists refer to these evasion strategies as escape mechanisms.
On the one hand, cancer cells can change in such a way that they are no longer recognized by the immune cells. They imitate the appearance of healthy body cells. The camouflaged cancer cells can multiply and spread unhindered.
On the other hand, cancer cells can protect themselves from attacks by the immune system by inhibiting the activity of immune cells. The cancer cells are recognized by the immune system, but cannot be fought.
The aim of immunotherapies is to switch off or prevent these evasive strategies of cancer cells so that the bodies own defenses are once again able to fight the cancer.
What are immunotherapies and how do they work?
Immunotherapies are cisplatin drug therapies that enhance or activate the immune response. This includes all therapies that use the immune system to fight a disease.
Immunotherapeutic drugs are also increasingly used in cancer treatment. They support the immune system in recognizing and eliminating cancer cells.
Targeted therapies refer to a group of newer drugs that specifically interfere with the processes of the cancer cells. The growth or metabolism of the tumor is inhibited. Certain features on and in the cancer cells are used by targeted drugs as points of attack (targets). The therapy can only be effective if the patient’s own cancer cells show these characteristics.
Some targeted tacrolimus drugs are approved for the treatment of certain types of cancer (such as lung, colon and breast cancer), mostly at an advanced stage. Clinical trials examine whether existing active ingredients are suitable for other types of cancer or whether new active ingredients can be approved.
Importance of immunotherapies and targeted therapies
Research is concerned with improving existing and developing new immunotherapies and targeted therapies. The control of therapy-related side effects in immunotherapies and targeted therapies remains a major challenge. For some sufferers, these new therapies are well tolerated. For others, they cause side effects that can be serious.
In addition, it still needs to be clarified why some of those affected respond well to the treatment, while the therapy does not “work” for others.