What are Biological Therapies?

Biological therapies try to attack particular parts of the cancer cell either indirectly by the immune system or by attacking the cancer cells directly.

Treatment may be given by injection, infusion or as tablets.

Biological therapies may be given on their own or in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Monoclonal antibodies, angiogenesis inhibitors and cell growth inhibitors are all examples of biological therapies.

How do Biotherapy drugs work?

Instead of working systemically to effect cancer and healthy cells as traditional chemotherapy does, they work by targeting very particular parts of cancer cells or pathways involved in cancer growth. The drug binds to the cancer cell or pathway and prevents the process continuing.

This also means the side effects experienced can be different to chemotherapy as the traditional systemic effects such as lowering of the immune system do not occur because the drug has targeted a very specific area.​

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Page last reviewed: 08 April 2015
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