The manipulation of IMMUNITY by immunological (see IMMUNOLOGY) means to reduce harmful reactions or to boost beneﬁcial responses. Severe ALLERGY to wasp or bee stings is often treated by a course of injections with allergen puriﬁed from insect venom. There are current attempts to treat autoimmune diseases (see AUTOIMMUNITY) with monoclonal antibodies to the T-cell populations or cytokines implicated in the immunopathogenesis of the disorder.
Strategies are also being evaluated for treating cancer by boosting the patient’s own immunity to cancer cells. One approach is immunisation with cancer cells manipulated in vivo to increase a T-lymphocyte attack on antigens expressed by tumour cells. Another method is to manipulate the cytokine network into encouraging an immune attack on, or self-destruction (‘apoptosis’) of, malignant cells.
Immunotherapy is however a developing science, and its place in the routine treatment of immunological and malignant diseases is still evolving.