At Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, our medical oncologists are experts in the use of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer.

Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of the immune system to fight cancer or to lessen the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.

This can include stimulating your own immune system to work harder, or using an outside source, such as immune system proteins developed in the laboratory. Other terms used to describe immunotherapy include biologic response modifiers and biologic therapy.

The immune system is a network of cells and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by foreign substances. This network is one of the body's main defenses against disease. It works against disease, including cancer, in many ways. For example, the immune system may recognize the difference between healthy cells and cancer cells and work to eliminate those that become cancerous. Cancer may develop when the immune system breaks down or is not functioning adequately.

Immunotherapies are designed to repair, stimulate, or enhance the immune system's responses.

Research Creating Innovative Therapies

The Cancer Immunotherapy Research Program at Penn Medicine develops novel immune therapies for the treatment of cancer. These therapies include cancer vaccines, immune modulatory drugs, and cell-based therapies with state-of-the-art technologies including gene therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and T-cell engineering. Current research focuses on patients with pancreatic cancer, melanoma, myeloma and other hematological malignancies.

Hear from Doug, a chronic lymphocytic leukemia survivor, to learn how immunotherapy successfully treated his cancer:

Cancer immunotherapy is a rapidly moving field. Our program works to link clinical trial investigation with basic and translational research to push the cutting edge.

Led by world-renowned physician and researcher Carl H. June, MD, the immunotherapy research program is an integral part of the Abramson Cancer Center cancer treatment program.

Visit Oncolink for more information on immunotherapy and other biological therapies.