Brain & Spinal Cord Cancers

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Biological Therapy/Targeted Therapy/Vaccine Therapy

This group of therapies uses proteins like monoclonal antibodies and small molecules to fight cancer cells. A new class of agents called targeted therapies are designed to injure a specific growth-promoting target in cancer.

Targeted cancer therapies block the growth of cancer cells by using drugs that interfere with signals in cancer cells that permit uncontrolled growth. An example is bevacizumab (Avastin), an intravenous drug that targets cancer blood vessels. Bevacizumab in part converts cancer blood vessels into more normal appearing blood vessels, which aids chemotherapy entry into cancer cells, decreasing leaky blood vessels that result in brain edema, and denying the cancer a source of blood. Vaccines directed against cancer are a type of targeted therapy. Biological therapies use the body’s immune system to fight cancer.