Immunotherapy as a Cancer Treatment: Update 1

I recently began my project which focuses on immunotherapy and its increasing usage as a treatment for cancer. To start my research, I have begun by compiling articles I found online that both describe different types of immunotherapy and discuss the various results of clinical trials.

I began my project expecting to have to focus my research on just a few types of immunotherapy. As I read more articles I decided to narrow down my research to the few types of immunotherapy that I have been able to find the most research on. I found that the types of immunotherapy most mentioned are: monoclonal antibodies, cancer vaccines, and immune checkpoint inhibitors. These types of immunotherapy have had more clinical trials, making them easier to compare and evaluate as treatments for cancer.

While I have been able to slightly narrow down my research, I have found that can still be difficult to compare these areas. Each area has many different drugs that are at varying stages of clinical trials. Additionally, these drugs have had successes in treating different types of cancer. As I do my research I have decided to try and focus on drugs that are at similar stages of clinical trials so that there are similar amounts of information available. However, the differences between the drugs also provides interesting data to help understand where some treatments are more or less effective than the other treatments. Additionally, one other factor I did not consider or anticipate before I began my research was the possibility of immunotherapy being used as a preventative measure, rather than just as a method of treatment.

I think my biggest challenge moving forward will be narrowing down all my research into a few drugs or treatments which I will discuss more in depth. While I want to investigate several different drugs and compare them, the number of available treatments can seem overwhelming. Because of this, I have begun to narrow my focus to just a few types of immunotherapy, although even then there are still so many different drugs that I will only be able to pick a few drugs to focus on.

Comments

  1. slfuhrig says:

    Natalia, your research topic is really cool! Yesterday, I read an article about the growing rates of liver cancer in the US, and I was shocked by how many people develop it. Given how common cancer is, I am sure that the number of available types of immunotherapy is baffling. From your research, do you think that immunotherapy will eventually become one of the more common cancer treatment options? Also, your finding about preventative immunotherapy is interesting. What types of cancer has it been used for so far?

    Thank you!

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/17/health/liver-cancer-death-rate-study/index.html

  2. mbcmgill says:

    Hi Natalia!
    Your research sounds so interesting and relevant. Immunotherapy is such a broad topic, as so many researchers are working to find effective treatments. Out of the ones you’ve looked at so far, is there a certain type of immunotherapy that is most heavily being researched, or one that has the most promise as a treatment method? I look forward to seeing how your research progresses!
    Makenna

  3. nmcritchley01 says:

    Hey Makenna!
    I would say that from all the articles I’ve read, monoclonal antibodies and immune checkpoint inhibitors are the types of immunotherapy being researched and used the most. However, both of these have limitations to their success. While monoclonal antibodies which target antigens on the surface of tumor cells sounds very effective, in practice it is sometimes difficult to access the target cells. There is also the possibility that these monoclonal antibodies also cross-react with normal, healthy tissues. Meanwhile, immune checkpoint inhibitors help enhance the anti-tumor function of T lymphocytes but have been know to cause immune related adverse events (irAEs) which can lead to rashes, fatigue, coughing, and in more severe cases pneumonitis, renal toxicity, and more. Based on my research, these two types of immunotherapy have the most promise, but there is still a long way to go in making them more effective and limiting the potential side effects.
    -Natalia

  4. nmcritchley01 says:

    Thanks for the comment! I do think that in the future, immmunotherapy will become a more common cancer treatment option, but there is still a long way to go before it reaches that point. As of right now, there are several possible side effects which make immunotherapy a risky treatment, such as irAEs (immune related adverse events.) I think that as more clinical trials are held and more research is done to fix these side effects, immunotherapy will become a more popular treatment. Cancer vaccines are being used as a preventative treatment. They are vaccines which treat infections which in turn can cause cancer. One example is HPV vaccines are used to prevent cancer because certain HPV strains contain oncogenes which give a strong risk of cervical cancer. So in this way, HPV vaccines are used to help prevent the number of people who develop cervical cancer from HPV.

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