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What Is Immune Therapy?

Immune therapies, or immunotherapies, are types of treatments that aid your immune system to fight cancer. In the case of myeloma, it uses the body’s immune system to help fight infections and attack cancer cells.

The immune system can be likened to a fine Swiss watch, with many tiny moving parts working together seamlessly. A change or malfunction in even one of those tiny parts can affect all others. These ‘parts’ include white blood cells, organs, tissues, and the lymphatic system.  

How Does Immune Therapy Fight Cancer? 

When the immune system is functioning normally, it will find and destroy abnormal cells. As a result, the immune system may prevent or slow the growth of many cancers.  

Yet, cancer cells have ways to avoid the immune system’s ability to destroy them. For example, according to the National Cancer Institute, “cancer cells may: 

  • Have genetic changes that make them less visible to the immune system. 
  • Have proteins on their surface that turn off immune cells. 
  • Change the normal cells around the tumor so they interfere with how the immune system responds to the cancer cells.” 

Immune therapies help the immune system to work better against cancer. 

What Are Types of Immune Therapies? 

  • Monoclonal antibodies 
  • Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) 
  • Bispecific T-cell Engagers (BiTEs®) 
  • CAR T cells 
  • Checkpoint Inhibitors 
  • Vaccine Therapies 
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy 
  • Certain combination therapies, including immunomodulatory drugs and proteasome inhibitors 

 
Learn more about each type of immune therapy and the immune system as a whole in the IMF Publication Understanding the Immune System in Myeloma

 

What Is BCMA?

IMF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mikhael, MD, discusses BCMA (B-cell maturation antigen), a target for multiple myeloma treatment. 

 

What Are Antibody Drug Conjugates?

IMF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mikhael, MD, discusses antibody drug conjugates, an approach for targeting BCMA as part of multiple myeloma treatment. 

 

What Is CAR T-Cell Therapy?

IMF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mikhael, MD, discusses CAR T-cell therapy (chimeric antigen receptor), an approach for targeting BCMA as part of multiple myeloma treatment. 

 

What Are Bispecific Therapies?

IMF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mikhael, MD, explains bispecific therapies as an approach for targeting BCMA as part of multiple myeloma treatment.



The International Myeloma Foundation medical and editorial content team

Comprised of leading medical researchers, hematologists, oncologists, oncology-certified nurses, medical editors, and medical journalists, our team has extensive knowledge of the multiple myeloma treatment and care landscape. Additionally, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie reviews and approves all medical content on this website.

Last Medical Review: September 11, 2019

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