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The therapeutic use of biologic agents to manipulate the mechanisms of the IMMUNE SYSTEM. Immunotherapy, also called biologic response modification, is an effective method for reducing INFLAMMATION and other aspects of the IMMUNE RESPONSE to treat inflammatory AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS such as RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS. Immunotherapy is also a treatment option formany forms of cancer. The common types of immunotherapy are
- CYTOKINES such as INTERLEUKINS and INTERFERONS, which boost the cytotoxic (cell-killing) actions of T-cell lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells
- COLONY-STIMULATING FACTORS (CSFS), which stimulate the growth of leukocytes and lymphocytes (white blood cells) in the BONE MARROW
- MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES (MABS), which stimulate specific ANTIBODY activity
Vaccines are among the most effective and basic forms of immunotherapy. A vaccine introduces a substance such as a VIRUS or strain of BACTERIA into the body at a level significant enough to stimulate an immune response yet mild enough to avoid establishing INFECTION in most people. Researchers are now exploring ways to apply the principles of vaccines to cancer treatment and CANCER PREVENTION. CANCER VACCINES, currently in investigational studies, attempt to modify the immune response by creating antibodies that will recognize the antigens on cancer cells should the cancer recur after initial treatment.