Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy or biotherapy) is a treatment to activate or repair the ability of the body’s immune system to fight cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, infections, and other diseases. This therapy may also be combined with other cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, to help reduce treatment-related side effects.
Using laboratory-engineered substances called biological response modifiers (BRMs) the body’s level of BRMs can be elevated in response to cancer, infection and disease. Forms of biological response modifiers include interferons, interleukins, colony-stimulating factors, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, gene therapy, and nonspecific immunomodulating agents.
Currently, some BRMs are approved to be used in treatments for certain types of cancer. Researchers continue to discover new BRMs and clinical trial studies are conducted to advance biotherapy treatments.