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Immunotherapy

Physician-scientist Renier Brentjens with a patient
Immunotherapy at MSK
Cancer is smart, but your immune system is smarter. Discover how Memorial Sloan Kettering is deploying immunotherapy to fight cancer.
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Immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses the immune system to attack cancer cells, in much the same way that it attacks bacteria or viruses. 

This type of therapy seeks to harness different types of immune cells circulating in your body and has the potential to provide lasting benefits. Simply put, immunotherapy treats your body, and your body treats the cancer.

In recent years, there have been major advances in the field of cancer immunotherapy, and this treatment is currently being investigated for many cancer types. 

FDA-approved immunotherapies exist for several cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and lymphoma, and many more are in development. MSK patients can participate in clinical trials that give them early access to new and potentially promising immunotherapy treatments. 

Types of Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy can be given in the form of drugs or as a cell-based therapy, which means that we extract and modify a patient’s own immune cells before infusing them back into the body.

  • Checkpoint Inhibitors

    Checkpoint inhibitors work by releasing a natural brake on your immune system so that immune cells called T cells recognize and attack tumors.

  • CAR T Cell Therapy

    Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy is an approach in which scientists genetically engineer a patient’s own immune cells to make a new protein. This turns them into supercharged cancer fighters.

  • Cancer Vaccines

    Therapeutic cancer vaccines train your body to protect itself against its own damaged or abnormal cells — including cancer cells.