Immunotherapy for Neuroblastoma
Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to help a patient’s own immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Several types of immunotherapy are now being studied for use against neuroblastoma (some of which are described in the section “ What’s new in neuroblastoma research and treatment?”).
Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of immune system proteins that can be made to attack a very specific target. They can be injected into the body to seek out and attach to cancer cells.
A monoclonal antibody called dinutuximab (Unituxin) attaches to GD2, a substance found on the surface of many neuroblastoma cells. This antibody can be given together with cytokines (immune system hormones) such as GM-CSF and interleukin-2 (IL-2) to help the child’s immune system recognize and destroy neuroblastoma cells. This antibody is now part of the routine treatment for many children with high-risk neuroblastoma, often after a stem cell transplant.
Possible side effects
Side effects of dinutuximab treatment can include:
- Nerve pain (which can sometimes be severe)
- Leaking of fluid in the body (which can lead to low blood pressure, fast heart rate, shortness of breath, and swelling)
- Allergic reactions (which can lead to airway swelling, trouble breathing, and low blood pressure)
Last Medical Review: March 14, 2014 Last Revised: January 22, 2016
- Neuroblastoma Surgery
- Chemotherapy for Neuroblastoma
- Radiation Therapy for Neuroblastoma
- High-Dose Chemotherapy/Radiation Therapy and Stem Cell Transplant for Neuroblastoma
- Retinoid Therapy for Neuroblastoma
- Immunotherapy for Neuroblastoma
- Treatment of Neuroblastoma by Risk Group
- Emotional and Social Issues in Children With Neuroblastoma