Biological Therapy

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Cancer Centre, Mater Private Network, Eccles Street, Dublin 7, D07 WKW8 01 885 8562

Please note that a referral letter is required before an appointment can be confirmed.

Useful Information

About biological therapy

Biological therapy for cancer is a type of treatment that uses the body's immune system to kill cancer cells.

The goal of biological therapy for cancer is to induce your immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Biological therapies stimulate the body to: 

  • Attack or control the growth of cancer cells 
  • Overcome side effects caused by other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy 

Biological therapy could be the best treatment for some cancers and is used depending on: 

  • Your type of cancer 
  • How far your cancer has spread 
  • Other cancer treatments being used to treat your condition

Many types of biological therapies are not suitable for treating all types of cancers. 

Biological therapies can be quite confusing. It is difficult to group them into a format which is easy to understand. Therefore it is probably advisable not to worry about how doctors and researchers group these drugs. What you need to know is what the aim of the treatment is and what the side effects are likely to be. 

Immunotherapy is one type of biological therapy. It uses substances produced by the body’s immune system. These substances help the body to fight infection and disease. 

Other types of biological therapies use substances that are still natural, but are not part of the immune system. 

  • Monoclonal antibodies (MABs) 
  • Cancer vaccines 
  • Growth factors for blood cells 
  • Cancer growth blockers 
  • Drugs that block cancer blood vessel growth (anti angiogenics) 
  • Interferon and interleukin 2 
  • Gene therapy

These can be discussed in more detail with your consultant. 

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a number of ways

  • Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells
  • Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins

Immunotherapy includes treatments that work in different ways. Some boost the body & immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically. Immunotherapy works better for some types of cancer than for others. It is used by itself for some of these cancers, but for others it seems to work better when used in combination with other types of treatment.