ImmunOncology, i.e. the use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment, is an innovative discipline using immunotherapy as therapeutic strategy in the fight against cancer. Today Immunotherapy adds up to more traditional strategies used for cancer treatment. such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and biological therapies.
Unlike traditional therapies against cancer that attack the tumor directly, the target of cancer immunotherapy is to stimulate the immune system and to make it capable of identifying and selectively attacking tumor cells. Thus, the body develops an internal defense mechanism and fights the disease in a targeted manner.
Immunoncology is a turning point in the fight against cancer: following an initial success in the treatment of melanoma (skin cancer), it has also shown to be effective in the treatment of lung, kidney, prostate, head-neck, mesothelium, Merkel cell carcinoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma cancers, and immune-oncology drugs are currently being developed also for the treatment of other types of cancer.
On the basis of the results obtained until now and of the promises of immunotherapy for the future, the scientific community has recognised immunoncology as one of the most prestigious breakthroughs in the medical field of the last years.
In this regard, the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2018 was awarded to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for the discovery of two proteins, CTLA-4 and PD-1, immunological checkpoints, which underlie the mechanism of action of immunotherapeutic drugs currently used in clinical practice.
The inhibition of these immunological checkpoints "switches the switch" of the immune system and makes it active in fighting tumors.
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