Immunotherapy is a treatment option for various diseases such as cancer that uses certain parts of immune system to fight against the diseases. Immunotherapy is also known as biotherapy or biologic therapy. Immunotherapy can be performed via two ways:
- By stimulating one’s own immune system to work against the disease by attacking defected cells
- By giving components of immune system from outside such as synthetic proteins into the body to fight against disease
Immunotherapy is performed to treat cancer patients since long, even when immune system was not well understood by doctors. William, a New York surgeon, noticed that acquiring certain infections post surgery helped some cancer patients. In late 1800s, he started treating cancer patients by infecting them with Coley toxins (bacteria). Although he was successful in treating cancer, this technique was overshadowed by the introduction of other treatment options such as radiation therapy.
Later down the line, immunotherapy gained popularity with increasing knowledge about the actions of immune system. Immunotherapy has been proven to be successful in treating some type of cancer than other treatment options such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Immune system helps protect from infections by traveling throughout the body to protect it from germs that result infections.
Cancer immunotherapy can be classified as: monoclonal antibodies therapy, cancer vaccines therapy and non-specific immunotherapy. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of proteins for immune system. Antibodies are expected to be very useful in treating cancer since they are designed to attack specific parts of cancer cell. Cancer vaccines, also known as cell based therapy, help treat cancer by injecting certain substances (cancer vaccines) into the body to start an immune response against cancer. Non-specific immunotherapies boost the immune system in general way and help immune system to attack cancer cells.
Monoclonal antibodies can be further segmented as: naked monoclonal antibodies and conjugated monoclonal antibodies. The naked monoclonal antibodies are antibodies that are without any modifications or alterations. Currently, most of the antibodies therapies are performed with naked monoclonal antibodies. Conjugated monoclonal antibodies are modified by joining them to another molecule, which is either radioactive or toxic to cells. Toxic chemicals are generally routinely utilized chemotherapy drugs. The antibody binds to specific antigens on the cancer cells surface and directs the radiation or drugs to the tumor.
The market for cancer immunotherapy is expected to increase with rising number of patients suffering from cancer across the globe. It has been estimated by the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI) that around 12.7 million people worldwide suffered from cancer in 2008 and this number is expected to reach nearly 21 million in 2030. Likewise, cancer immunotherapy has been proven to be successful in treating cancer which will expedite the utilization of cancer immunotherapy for cancer treatment. In addition, increasing research and development for cancer immunotherapy by scientists will further accentuate the growth of cancer immunotherapy market. Scientists have developed various new cancer vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for enhancing the list of cancer immunotherapy products.
Some of the major payers operating in cancer immunotherapy market include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Viralytics, Ltd., Medivation, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Limited, Celgene Corp., Advaxis, Inc., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Merck & Co., F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and AstraZeneca plc amongst other significant players.
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