Immunotherapy: Advances in the fight against cancer

Immunotherapy consists of the treatment of diseases through the support of the immune system. It is a considerable help for our own body to be able to defeat the enemy in this case, many different types of cancers that have little or little chance of being overcome by the body naturally. Below we tell you more about this hopeful news about immunotherapy and its power to treat cancer.


What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy focuses on the problem directly. It is the introduction of the drug directly into the focus of infection of the disease. Currently in the University of Navarra, has developed an experimental drug called BO-112 that would be able to destroy the majority of cancer cells with difficult treatment such as those with large malignant tumors.

This drug is injected directly into the tumor and not into the bloodstream as the majority of existing drugs for the fight against cancer and would be able to provoke a reaction in the immune system of the patient capable of achieving this end with the cancer cells thus preventing the extension of the tumor. It does not mean that the drug will dissolve the mass much less, but it will cause the immune system to control the invasion and destroy the cells that are reproducing and the connectors that are the culprits of extending the cancer towards other systems or organs.

As for the mass already generated, if it is large it must be removed with surgery. But the implantation of this medicine in combination with other techniques for the treatment of cancer can greatly increase the chances of success in the fight against cancer of the patient.

Types of immunotherapy

There are different types of immunotherapy:

Monoclonal antibodies: In this case the antibodies are manufactured in a laboratory, they can be used for example to block cancer cells.

Non-specific immunotherapies: In general, non-specific immunotherapies are used at the same time as other therapies to treat cancer, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It is the most commonly used treatment for the disease.

Oncolytic viruses: This therapy uses viruses that have been genetically modified to act against cancer cells.

T cells or thymocytes: This type immunotherapy is still in the experimental stage, but with very encouraging results. T cells are immune and fight directly with cells affected by cancer. The treatment consists of extracting this type of cells from the patient; these are grown in the laboratory until millions of copies are obtained. Afterwards, they are introduced back into the patient’s body where they will fight like a huge army to kill the cancer cells.

Vaccine against cancer: The operation is basically that of a vaccine, the immune system is exposed to a disease, in this case to cancer, causing the body itself to recognize this disease and fight it. Vaccines can be preventive or therapeutic.

How can it improve the patient’s life?

With the use of this drug, the patient can greatly reduce the use of chemotherapy as an invasive technique for the destruction of tumor masses, so as well as increasing their chances of success in fighting the disease. It would also improve the quality of life during the hard process to get out of the grip of this terrible disease. Doing the fight more bearable and can get to keep cancer presumed deadly in chronic diseases.

Side effects of immunotherapy

One of the advantages of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer is that the side effects are less aggressive in the patient than other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Although not all patients present the same symptoms, those that have been detected in a greater percentage of patients treated with immunotherapy are:

  • Fatigue, feeling lack of energy..
  • Skin problems such as rashes, sores and skin itching.
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, all this also causing weight loss.
  • Possible fever episodes.
  • Difficulty of falling asleep, insomnia.

Serious adverse effects from immunotherapy

There are other types of adverse effects that, although they occur in a lower percentage of patients, it is important to know that they can be really dangerous. If you are treating yourself with immunotherapy and you notice any of these symptoms, go immediately to a hospital center. It is also important to point out that these symptoms can appear even two years after having finished the treatment.

Therefore, you should pay special attention to certain symptoms that may be a sign that something more serious is arising. Some of the diseases that can arise as a result of immunotherapy are:

  • Hepatitis, the yellowish skin is observed, the color of the urine darkens, bruises may appear more easily and pain on the right side of the stomach.
  • Inflammation of the lungs, pain in the chest, shortness of breath and very frequent coughing.
  • Colitis or inflammation of the colon, severe pain in the abdomen, diarrhea or a strange increase in the frequency of stools, blood in the stool or a very dark color.
  • Hormonal changes, such as sudden mood swings, lack of sexual appetite, increased irritability and even the voice may sound more serious.
  • Problems in the glands, such as sudden changes in weight, constant thirst sensation, dizziness and nausea, constant headaches, cold sensation or hair loss.
  • Problems in the brain derived from an inflammation, you can feel hallucinations, sensation of tingling in the feet and hands, stiff neck, disorientation, memory loss or great weakness in the muscles.

Among other serious consequences such as kidney failure, important skin reactions such as sores, ulcers in mucous areas such as the mouth or nose, severe infection with symptoms similar to those of the flu and even serious eye problems.

Immunotherapy is a therapy under investigation

The most important thing in the fight against cancer is the strength and optimism with which the patient decides to confront this disease. It is not a struggle of the body against an invader is a struggle continues to overcome and against the discouragement of those who suffer it.

Therefore, it is a novel treatment, which is still in the process of experimentation. All patients are not receptive to this type of treatment, nor it is effective for all types of cancer. In addition, it is a very expensive treatment so it is difficult to access.

So it is very important to take into account all the points mentioned and know how it can affect. Since, if you are in a process with immunotherapy or you have a relative in this situation, it is important that you know the possible adverse effects, so that if you detect one, you can act quickly.