Many treatments are being developed and have been approved as immune therapy. Immune therapy, or immunotherapy, stimulates a patient’s immune system so that it can defend and protect the body against diseases, including cancer. You may have heard of biologic therapy, which is another name for immunotherapy and can include monoclonal antibodies, non-specific therapies, and cancer vaccines. Although immunotherapies work in a variety of ways, the premise of their success is that they train a patient’s immune system to recognize and target cancer cells thereby sparing healthy cells.
It is well-known that tumors adapt themselves in order to avoid immune system defenses, thus allowing the tumors to grow and spread throughout the body. For over 30 years, the John Wayne Cancer Institute has investigated how tumors evolve in the context of the immune system. This research commenced in the melanoma research program under the late Dr. Donald L. Morton and continues today.