Active immunotherapy is the immunization of the patient with materials that elicit an immune reaction capable of eliminating/delaying tumour growth. It includes the administration of non-specific stimulators of the immune system, such as the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and cytokines.
Unfortunately, cancer usually grows in an immunosuppressed environment and, therefore, non-specific cancer vaccines, with the identification of tumour-associated antigens and the ability to genetically modify tumour cells, offers the promise of a specific, active immunotherapy.
Passive immunotherapy of cancer includes the administration of materials that have the ability to mediate anti-tumour response directly or indirectly. This material could be antibodies, used either native or conjugated to a toxic agent, or cells (lymphocytes or macrophages).
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