Biological therapy involves the use of living organisms, substances derived from living organisms, or laboratory-produced versions of such substances to treat disease. Some biological therapies for cancer use vaccines or bacteria to stimulate the body’s immune system to act against cancer cells. These types of biological therapy, which are sometimes referred to collectively as “immunotherapy” or “biological response modifier therapy,” do not target cancer cells directly. Other biological therapies, such as antibodies or segments of genetic material (RNA or DNA), do target cancer cells directly. Biological therapies that interfere with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression are also referred to as targeted therapies.
For patients with cancer, biological therapies may be used to treat the cancer itself or the side effects of other cancer treatments. Although many forms of biological therapy have been approved by the FDA, others remain experimental and are available to cancer patients principally through participation in clinical trials.
*Information courtesy of the National Cancer Institute
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