Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is among the common types of cancer globally. It is responsible for nearly one in five cancer-related death or an estimated 1.6 million people. There are two major types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. But unfortunately, by the time lung cancer is diagnosed, it has usually gone to the later stages of the disease. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three immunotherapies for lung cancer: nivolumab, bevacizumab and pembrolizumab.

Lung cancer has recently emerged as an exciting new target of immune-based therapies. Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to stimulate patient’s own immune system to recognize and then destroy cancer cells effectively. It negates the negative symptoms that patients experience. Immunotherapy for lung cancer offers significant benefits to the patients including those for whom other treatments are ineffective. It is an alternative treatment approach to help improve outcomes.

The immunotherapies are being developed for lung cancer and are divided into four main groups.

Immune Checkpoint Inhibition

Checkpoint inhibition represents a new approach for treatment of lung cancer. There are several types of checkpoint indicators for targeting different checkpoints on immune cells. One important braking molecule is PD-1 found on certain immune cells.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Two monoclonal antibodies are approved by FDA for treatment of lung cancer are bevacizumab and Ramucirumab. These antibodies are molecules that target specific markers called antigens found on tumors.

Therapeutic Vaccines

This immunotherapy designed to draw an immune response against tumor-specific antigens. Therapeutic vaccines for treatment of stage III NSCLC are being studied in clinical trials.

Adoptive Cell Therapy

Another approach to treating lung cancer is use of adoptive cell therapy. In this, the immune cells are removed, genetically treated with chemicals and then are re-introduced into the patient. A number of adoptive cell therapies are currently being tested in clinical trials.

As each person’s lung cancer journey is different, so it is important to stay informed about future treatment options.

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