Biological Therapy

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatments

Biological Therapy

Biological drugs: These are medications that enhance the immune system's ability to fight cancers. In NHL, monoclonal antibodies are used for treatment. The therapy is administered via an IV, and the monoclonal antibodies bind to the cancer cells and augment the immune system's ability to destroy cancer cells. Rituximab (Rituxan) is such a drug used in the treatment of B cell lymphoma. Side effects for this treatment are usually flu-like symptoms. Rarely, a person can have a severe reaction, including a drop in blood pressure or difficulty breathing.

What is biological therapy?

Biological or biologic therapy is treatment designed to stimulate or restore the ability of the body's immune (natural internal defense) system to fight infection and disease. Biological therapy is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy and is commonly used to treat different kinds of cancers, as well as other conditions.

How does biological therapy work?

Biological therapy is a form of treatment that uses portions of the body's natural immune system to treat a disease. Biological therapy is also used to protect the body from some of the side effects of certain treatments.

Biological therapy often involves the use of substances called biological response modifiers (BRMs). The body normally produces these substances in small amounts in response to infection and disease. Using modern laboratory techniques, scientists can produce BRMs in large amounts for use in the treatment of cancer and other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

Biological therapy may also target specific molecules on cancer cells to destroy the cells, or it may target proteins that facilitate the growth of cancer cells.

Depending on the agent, biological therapies can be given by mouth, intravenously, or as an injection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/29/2016

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