Biologic therapies are anti-cancer drugs that work disrupt the processes that take place within cancer cells. These interfere with the cancer cells' capacity to grow.
They are generally used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Clinical trials are currently trying to find out if targeted-therapy drugs are useful for small-cell lung cancer.
The two types of therapy used are epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies.
Cancer growth inhibitors
Many types of cancer cells have chemical components on their surface called growth factors; these send signals to the cells that control how cancer cells grow and divide. These drugs block these signals and prevent the cells from growing.
However, they only work in NSCLC cases that have a mutated form of an epidermal growth factor growth factor (EGFR) protein.
Erlotinib, gefitinib, and afatanib are the cancer growth factors that can be used to treat metastatic NSCLC.
These drugs are taken in tablet form. The side effects can include rash, diarrhea, feeling unwell, and fatigue.
Monoclonal antibodies recognize certain proteins. Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks endothelial growth factor, a protein secreted by the tumor cell to induce the formation of new vessels ensuring tumor oxygenation and nutrition.