Immuno-oncology is the study and development of cancer treatments that harness the body’s natural immune system. Experts in the field expect that immuno-oncology will eventually become a pillar of cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The immune system’s job is to detect and attack foreign invaders, but cancer cells often evade it, which is how they continue to grow. However, immuno-oncology utilizes different approaches to address these evasion tactics and help the immune system.
Some of the therapies under immuno-oncology include:
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors. These help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells by blocking receptors on the cancer cells that make them look “normal.”
- Small molecule modulators. These help the immune system better attack cancer cells by modulating the immune response or the tumor microenvironment.
- Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell therapy. This allows T-cells to recognize proteins specific to cancer cells.
- Oncolytic virus therapy. This therapy kills cancer cells while also stimulating an anti-cancer immune response.
Cancer vaccines. These boost the body’s immune response to cancer cells.