Biological Therapy

What is biological therapy?

Biological 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.

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.

What are examples of biological therapies?

Monoclonal antibodies, interferon, interleukin-2 (IL-2), and several types of colony-stimulating factors (CSF, GM- CSF, G-CSF) are forms of biological therapy. For example, interleukin-2 and interferon are two examples of BRMs being tested for the treatment of advanced malignant melanoma.

Modes of biologic therapy that involve blocking the action of specific proteins of inflammation, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), are being used for the treatment of a number of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) are examples of commercially available injectable TNF-blocking treatments for patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/29/2015

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