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Making the Promise of Immunotherapeutics into Reality
Posted on August 2nd, 2017 by Patricia Morgan in Chemistry
This is an exciting and hopeful time for cancer research, as new therapies and approaches are being explored that offer an alternative to standard chemotherapy, which can be effective but often carries a number of harsh side effects. In particular, immunotherapeutics are changing the way we view cancer treatment, but their potential actually goes beyond oncology. The first cancer vaccine, Coley’s toxin, was developed over 100 years ago.
However, a new era of research interest started to unfold in the 1980’s, usher in a renewed interest in immune therapies. The technologies being developed to address cancers will also likely be applicable to a variety of other disease areas, including neurodegenerative, infectious and autoimmune diseases.
Today, physicians have many different types of immunotherapeutics available such as anti-tumor antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, adoptive cell transfer, co-stimulatory agonists, vaccines, antibody-drug conjugates, oncolytic viruses and angiogenesis blockers. While the mechanisms differ, what all immune therapies have in common is that they use the patient’s own immune system to boost the anti-cancer response.
However, despite the promise of immunotherapeutics, there are significant obstacles getting in the way of these therapeutic agents being adopted on a large scale. Researchers still have much to learn, and better tools are needed to help facilitate the development of safe therapies.
The success of immunotherapy research will continue to rely on ever-expanding data on cancer and immune signaling pathways, as well as innovations that lead to the understanding of the interactions between these pathways.
The white paper “The Era of Immunotherapeutics: Overcoming the challenges to fulfill the potential” discusses the challenges associated with immunotherapeutics in detail, from target selection to adverse events, as well as advances in immune therapies.
All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.
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