Cancer immunotherapy—treatments that use the innate powers of the body’s immune system to fight cancer—have the potential to offer patients long term responses, with the potential for fewer side effects, for any cancer patient, with any type of cancer. Immunotherapy is a quickly-developing field of cancer treatment with unprecedented ability to deliver safe and effective treatments that make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families.
At Sanford Cancer Center, our patients have access to some of the most cutting-edge immunotherapy treatments through our novel clinical trials, right here in the Midwest.
CAR T Cell Therapy
T cell therapies are generating remarkable remissions in hard-to-beat cancers. T cells are the immune system’s attacker cells—they work hard to recognize and attack cancer cells. Sometimes cancer cells hide from T cells to avoid being attacked. By genetically modifying a patient’s own T cells to produce special receptors called chimeric antigen receptors or CARs, researchers and doctors can better train the T cells to find and kill tumor cells that would otherwise hide—like training a blood hound to sniff out a fugitive.
Your body already knows how to fight cancer—it’s designed for it. It just needs a little help. The immune system is like a guard patrol, searching for invaders. Unfortunately cancer is a difficult enemy, as it puts up camouflage to hide. Immune checkpoint inhibitors break through the camouflage and allow the immune system to recognize and attack cancer. Checkpoint inhibitor therapy has shown great promise as a targeted cancer treatment because it takes away some of cancer cells’ greatest defenses.
Oncolytic Viral Therapy
Normally, viruses kill healthy cells and make us sick. But some viruses called oncolytic viruses can be used as a form of immunotherapy. These special viruses kill cancer directly when they infect the cancer cells and cause them to die. Then, when the cancer cells die, they release cancer antigens which alert our body’s attack cells – or T Cells—to find and attack cancer in other parts of the body.
For more information on immunotherapy clinical trials, talk to your doctor or call Sanford Clinical Research at (605) 328-1368