Immunomodulators are a classification of drugs that target the pathways that treat several types of cancer and myeloma. They function in a variety of ways, especially by targeting the immune system to turn down the effects of certain proteins and increase others. Immunomodulators effectively regulate and normalize the body’s immune system.
Some of the medications classified as immunomodulators include:
Thalidomide (Thalomid), lenalidomide (Revlimid), and pomalidomide (Pomalyst) are considered Immunomodulators (lMiDs). These medications are therapeutic tools for aiding in the treatment of multiple myeloma. They may cause several adverse effects, such as drowsiness, constipation, low blood cell counts and potential painful nerve damage. As well, they can cause severe birth defects if taken during pregnancy.
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is essentially a germ that does not inflict serious diseases or harm on humans. However, BCG does infect human tissue to help activate the immune system. This makes it effective for cancer immunotherapy and it was one of the first immunotherapies used. BCG is often used to treat the early stages of bladder cancer. It is available in a liquid form that is inserted into the bladder via a catheter. It attracts the immune system cells to the bladder, which allows them to attack the cancer cells in the bladder. BCG is also used to treat melanoma skin cancer, by injecting it directly into the tumours.
Imiquimod is available in a cream base that is applied to the skin. This drug stimulates the body’s local immune response against skin cancer cells. It is often used to treat the early stages of skin cancer (pre-cancers), especially if the cancer is located in especially sensitive areas, such as on the face. The cream is applied at least once to twice a week for several months.