Boosting the body’s natural defenses to fight back


Your immune system is made up of cells that protect you from colds, flu, chicken pox, tonsillitis, ear infections, meningitis and even cancer. But sometimes your immune system gets “outsmarted” by diseases like cancer, and it needs a little help to work like it should. Immunotherapy is one way we hope to help our cells better recognize cancer and other deceptive diseases, so our immune system can keep us safe, protected and healthy.

Who can benefit from immunotherapy?

Currently, Sanford Health offers more than 20 immunotherapy clinical trials focused on various cancers and type 1 diabetes.  As research progresses, though, other diseases could potentially be added to the list.

 Fighting cancer:

Cracking cancer’s protective shell

Cancer cells can be very defensive. Sometimes, they form a protective shield that deflects your immune system’s attacks. Immunotherapy can help crack that shield, and may allow your immune system to successfully attack those unwanted cells and defeat cancer once and for all.

Giving cancer a virus

Cancer cells can be sneaky. They often can disguise themselves, tricking your immune system into believing they are normal, healthy cells inside your body. But when those elusive cancer cells are injected with viruses such as polio (cancer vaccines), your immune system will mount an attack against those infected cells, potentially killing the virus and the cancer.

 Type 1 diabetes:

The Sanford Project: T-Rex Study uses a child’s own cells

Those with type 1 diabetes have an imbalance of effector T cells and regulatory T cells. Immunotherapy may help rebalance the cells and your immune system.

Learn more about immunotherapy for cancer here and learn more about immunotherapy in type 1 diabetes here.

Learn more about immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes here.