There are three major types of biological therapies.
- Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps repair, stimulate or enhance the body's natural ability to fight cancer, helping cancer cells. Cancer vaccines, interferon and interleukin-2 treatments are examples of immunotherapies. A newer form of immunotherapy, called ipilimumab (Yervoy), has shown effectiveness in treating advanced melanoma, and studies on its use in treating other forms of cancer are under way.
- Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses nonchemotherapy drugs to target specific cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy spares normal cells and may reduce the side effects of other therapies. Many anti-cancer targeted therapies are in clinical trials and could be widely used in the future.
- Anti-angiogenesis. Anti-angiogenesis (an-tie-an-je-oh-JEN-uh-sis) helps prevent the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in a tumor. Because tumors need to develop blood vessels to grow or spread, this therapy helps stop them from growing. Mayo researchers are conducting clinical trials involving anti-angiogenesis for several types of cancers.