Immunotherapy For Tumors

The potential for treatment of cancer patients by immu-nologic approaches has held great promise for oncologists and immunologists for many years. The main reason for interest in an immunologic approach is that most current therapies for cancer rely on drugs that kill dividing cells or block cell division, and these treatments have severe effects on normal proliferating cells. As a result, the treatment of cancers causes significant morbidity and mortality. Immune responses to tumors may be specific for tumor antigens and will not injure most normal cells. Therefore, immunotherapy has the potential of being the most tumor-specific treatment that can be devised. Advances in our understanding of the immune system and in defining antigens on tumor cells have encouraged many new strategies. Immunotherapy for tumors aims to augment the weak host immune response to the tumors (active immunity) or to administer tumor-specific antibodies or T cells, a form of passive immunity. In this section, we describe some of the modes of tumor immu-notherapy that have been tried in the past or are currently being investigated.

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