Biological Therapy (cont.)
In this Article
- What is biological therapy?
- How does biological therapy work?
- What are examples of biological therapies?
- What are the side effects of biological therapy?
What are examples of biological therapies?
Monoclonal antibodies, interferon, interleukin-2 (IL-2), and several types of colony-stimulating factors (CSF, GM- CSF, G-CSF) are forms of biological therapy. For example, interleukin-2 and interferon are two examples of BRMs being tested for the treatment of advanced malignant melanoma.
Modes of biologic therapy that involve blocking the action of specific proteins of inflammation, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), are being used for the treatment of a number of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) are examples of commercially available injectable TNF-blocking treatments for patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the side effects of biological therapy?
The side effects of biological therapy depend on the type of treatment. Side effects include flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, muscle aches, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some patients develop a rash, and some bleed or bruise easily. In addition, interleukin therapy can cause swelling.
Depending on how severe these problems are, for some patients hospitalization during treatment may be required. Side effects are usually short-term and gradually subside after treatment ends.
The long-term side effects of the various currently available biological therapies will be better defined with future research from which will also surely emerge new and valuable forms of these treatments.
Medically reviewed by Venkatachala Mohan, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Gastroenterology
National Cancer Institute
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