Biological therapy is form of treatment that uses the body's own immune system to fight diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and immune disorders such as Crohn's disease. Also known as immunotherapy, biological therapy aims to restore the normal function of the immune system or stimulate it to work against these conditions. It may also be used to protect the body from certain treatments such as chemotherapy. These treatments utilize substances called biological response modifiers, or BRMs, which are naturally produced by the body in small amounts to fight infection and disease. Through biological therapy, large amounts of BRMS may be produced to improve the body's immune system to fight disease.
Types of Biological Therapy
There are several different biological therapies available to help treat certain illnesses or disease. These therapies may vary, based on the individual's diagnosis and condition. Commonly used biological therapies may include:
- Interferon, laboratory made proteins that hinder cancer cell growth
- Interleukin, stimulates the production of immune cells
- Colony-stimulating factors, stimulate the growth of bone marrow cells
- Non-specific immunomodulating agents, strengthen and support the immune system
These therapies can also be used to stimulate the immune system to reduce the side effects of other treatments.
Biological Therapy Treatment
Biological therapy may be administered different ways and on different treatment schedules, depending on the patient and their condition. Biological therapy may be administered orally through a pill or through an injection. In some cases, it is delivered intravenously through a vein in the arm. Some patients may be able to take some forms of biological therapy at home, while others need to be administered at a hospital or doctor's office.
Side Effects of Biological Therapy
As with any type of treatment, there are certain side effects associated with biological therapy. These side effects vary depending on the type of therapy performed, and some individuals may develop a rash and bleed or bruise easily. Additional symptoms may include flu-like symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
Side effects of biological therapy are usually short term and subside when the treatment ends.