Biological Therapy of Lung Cancer

Biological therapy in the treatment of lung cancer in Israel is an innovative and highly promising direction in conservative oncology.

Modern biological active preparations have sufficient antitumor efficacy and a high selectivity; the ability to selectively affect cancer cells. The selective action of biological therapy causes tolerability of this treatment and low incidence rates of side effects.

Biological therapy is an important component of comprehensive cancer treatment in Israel and contributes to impressive clinical results.

Read also: Lung Cancer Treatment in Israel 
Read also: Targeted therapy of lung cancer


Operating principles of biological therapy

Scientists in the field of oncology continue to study the mechanism of malignant transformation of cells and find differences between the metabolism of healthy tissues and cancerous cells.

Identifying distinctive metabolic characteristics allows you to develop and successfully apply medicines affecting the characteristic metabolic mechanisms of cancer cells only. For the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer in Israel, the following groups of biologicals are administered:

  • Monoclonal antibodies - drugs that can detect specific proteins of cancer cells, causing a violation of their synthesis or by linking them with the active anticancer drugs
  • Immunologically active agents that stimulate the production of antibodies against proteins of malignant cells
  • Blockers of cell growth factors - drugs that can block the receptors of cancer cells, receiving signals from internal and external growth factors. The blockade of growth factors lead to the slowing of the metabolism and inhibition of tumor growth
  • Drugs that inhibit the growth of blood vessels in the malignant tumor. Reduced tumor capillary circulation leads to the cessation of growth and a significant reduction in both primary and metastatic lesions

An important advantage of biological therapy for lung cancer is the efficiency at advanced stages of the disease in the presence of distant metastases.

Biological agents may find cancer cells throughout the body, acting in the very region of the primary tumor and in the field of secondary lesions.

The principal drugs of biological therapy of lung cancer in Israel

In cancer centers in Israel there are two main types of biological therapy:

  • Biologicals approved by the Ministry of Health within the treatment protocols with appropriate clinical and laboratory parameters
  • Biologicals applied in clinical studies to determine the effectiveness of their use in lung cancer. The decision to participate in clinical trials of drugs are taken individually with the patient's consent

Currently, for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer in Israel, the following preparations of biological therapy is applied:

  • Erlotinib (Tarceva) – a drug which effectively blocks protein synthesis in cancer cells containing the receptor EGFR. The presence of this receptor is determined by laboratory study tumor drug. Patients who are defined positive EGFR (10-15% of all cases of non-small cell lung cancer), the preparation is shown as comprising first complex course of therapy and in the absence of a sufficient antitumor effect of previous treatment
  • Gefitinib (Iressa) - this drug also blocks the action of growth factors in the presence of cancer cells in the corresponding receptors. Clinical studies have shown identical with classical chemotherapy efficacy, with significantly fewer side effects and significantly improve the quality of life in patients with metastatic lung cancer
  • Crizotinib (Xalkori) - the drug is effective in patients with an increased activity of the enzyme in cancer cells ALK.
  • Afatinib (Giotrif) - affects the metabolic processes of cancer enzyme level. The drug is well tolerated and has an advantage over chemotherapy if necessary a prolonged use in metastatic forms of the disease
  • Cetuximab (Erbitux) - this anti-tumor biologic is currently undergoing clinical efficacy studies in the treatment of metastatic form of lung cancer
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin) - a means of blocking the growth of blood vessels. The drug is well established in the treatment of many forms of cancer. Currently developed complex protocols of treatment with this agent


Side effects of biological therapy for lung cancer

The high selectivity of biological products can significantly reduce the side effects in comparison with conventional chemotherapy. The vast majority of side effects such as weakness, fatigue, skin rash, swelling, diarrhea, loss of appetite and a violation of laboratory parameters of the blood are temporary and can be controlled with modern drugs symptomatic therapy.


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