Immunotherapy: A Game Changer in the Fight Against Cancer


The battle against cancer has taken a revolutionary turn with the introduction of immunotherapy. This innovative approach not only treats symptoms, but mobilizes the body's own defenses to fight cancer cells. In this blog, we will explore how immunotherapy has transformed the landscape of oncology, bringing hope and promising results.


 What is the relationship between cancer and the immune system?


We have the misconception that the immune system is only responsible for fighting infections. It turns out that our defense system is more complex than we imagine, consisting of a supra-specialized network of organs, cells and molecules, which, broadly speaking, should have the general function of recognizing the external and the internal. Just as infection involves the invasion of an external agent, cancer, although arising from within, is recognized by the immune system as an external threat and as a potentially fatal unnatural process that demands its destruction.



How does the immune system identify threats to our body cells?


During centuries of human evolution and exposure to different threats, the immune system has developed an intricate "data system" that can skillfully distinguish between external and internal molecular codes, which is the fundamental basis for the functioning of our defense system.


Our internal bodily mechanisms do not differ significantly from our external human reality. In order to identify what is our own, each of our cells presents an identity number on its cell membrane. This number, code or sequence, indicates the origin and basic information of the cell in question, an analogy to a "passport" in our macro-world. On the other hand, the immune system functions as the regulating agent of these cellular codes, something like the authority figure who has registered in its database all the identification numbers belonging to the individual in question.


For the immune system, alteration of this identity number poses a serious threat, since it broadly indicates a failure in the cellular system that signals that something is wrong. This complex recognition mechanism has such identification potential that the change of a single digit can be detected by defense cells and trigger immediate cell death mechanisms.


How are tumor cells identified?


Cancer is a disease of genetic origin, which does not necessarily mean that it is hereditary. When there are changes in our DNA molecule, that is, in our genetic material, we say that a genetic mutation occurs. These mutations alter the instructions for the body's functioning, so it is from these mutations that we say cancer arises. But how does the immune system recognize a tumor cell?


When a cell is affected by a tumor process, it externally expresses codes that are not included in the body's database. The immune system, trained to detect these abnormal codes, prevents the progression of the countless tumor cells that appear in our body daily after their immediate destruction.


How did immunotherapy come about?