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Immuno-Oncology in Detail
Immuno-Oncology (I-O) is an innovative area of research that seeks to help the body's own immune system fight cancer. The goal is to address the unmet need for long-term survival in patients with advanced cancers.
The Immune System
The immune system is a network of organs, cells, and molecules throughout the whole body. The role of the immune system is to protect the body from harmful things like germs, viruses, and diseases like cancer. After first finding a foreign substance (such as germs, viruses, or cancer cells), the immune system takes action. Immune responses are the way the body works to find and destroy abnormal cells, including cancer cells.
Cancer and the Immune Response
Cancerous cells are actually quite common in the body. When cancerous cells form in the body, the immune system works to find and fight the cancer by activating an immune response. The immune response involves several different types of cells, including a kind of white blood cell called a T cell. These cells work to find and destroy the abnormal cancer cells.
Normally, the immune response works like it's supposed to by finding and destroying cancerous cells. Sometimes though, cancer cells can undergo changes in order to escape the body's ability to attack them, allowing cancerous cells to grow and spread. Immuno-Oncology research is looking at how to work with the immune system so that immune responses can work as they should. As a result, the immune response, including T cells, may be able to do its job of destroying cancerous cells.