Cytotoxic Therapy (Tumor Cell Modulation)

The second main category of biological therapy is sometimes called cytotoxic (cell-killing) therapy. This approach uses proteins called cytotoxins that are produced by the body's cells to attack the cancer either by destroying the cancer cells or by making it difficult for them to grow and reproduce. Another term for this approach is tumor cell modulation.

Tumor cell modulation changes the cancer cell's biology so that they become weak and die. Some of the agents used in this approach are called cytotoxins. Perhaps the best-known cytotoxin in this category is tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a toxin secreted by activated macrophages to selectively kill tumor cells, principally by interfering with their blood supply.

Certain agents make the antigens on cancer cells more recognizable to antibodies or make them stickier so that antibodies bind to them more easily. Other compounds interfere with the cancer cell's ability to metastasize.

Updated: December 21, 2023