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Advances in Immunotherapy

Medical researcher working in a lab

Also known as biologic therapy, immunotherapy makes use of the body’s immune system to treat certain diseases. From cancers to allergies, the advances that have been made in immunotherapy allow the treatment to be used across a wide range of medical conditions.

Immunotherapy and Cancer
While the body is usually able to identify and destroy any faulty cells, it can often miss them, and these cells end up developing into a tumor. Immunotherapy for treating cancer is quite a new concept, but there are many studies currently underway that are looking into how this treatment can target different types of cancers. From using monoclonal antibodies to attach to the proteins on cancerous cells, allowing the immune system to then recognize and destroy these, to cancer vaccines that expose the immune system to an antigen, enabling it to recognize and eliminate related substances, there are a number of ways in which immunotherapy is currently used to treat cancer, and this list is steadily growing.

Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy
Allergen-specific immunotherapy is actually one of the oldest current treatments for allergies, and was first used in London in 1911. While the way in which immunotherapy was so efficient at treating certain allergies was recognized back then, there have been significant developments in the way in which the treatment has been carried out, as well as the specific allergies that can be treated. When it comes to using immunotherapy to treat allergies, the process is often referred to as an allergy shot, and it works in a similar way to a vaccine. By injecting the body with a particular allergen, and subsequently increasing the dose at which you do so, the immune system is able to develop adequate protection against these foreign substances. In addition to decreasing the symptoms of a wide range of allergies, allergy shots can also prevent the development of new allergies, although this does depend on the length of the treatment program that you opt for.

Pollen Immunotherapy
Similar to allergen-specific immunotherapy, pollen immunotherapy has been designed for those that suffer from extreme hay fever. While hay fever symptoms can be controlled by other forms of medication, from nasal sprays to eye drops to antihistamines, these are not always successful, which is where pollen immunotherapy comes in. This treatment usually takes at least six months before symptoms begin to improve, and cannot be carried out during a pollen season, making it worthwhile to plan in advance if you think that pollen immunotherapy is something that can help you. However, you are only likely to be a candidate for this if your doctor has seen that standard medicines are not helping to reduce your hay fever symptoms.

From hay fever to cancer, immunotherapy is used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, and has been extremely successful in doing so over the years. This success has led to further studies in immunotherapy, so that, in the future, the concept can be applied to an even wider range of medical issues.

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