Targeted therapies are drugs or other substances that act on cell processes and in this case block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules (“molecular targets”) needed for tumour growth and division. It differs from cytotoxic chemotherapy which is targeted at all rapidly dividing cells not just tumour cells.
Because most agents for targeted therapy are biological pharmaceuticals, the term biological therapy is sometimes synonymous with targeted therapy.
Biological therapy involves the use of substances that occur naturally in your body, are man-made versions of these substances, or living organisms to help the body fight cancer. The therapy may stimulate your body to make more of a substance that can attack cancer cells, it may be a man-made version of that natural substance (pharmacological medicine), or the therapy may target something found on the cancer cells. Biological therapies may use cells from the patient’s body, which have been altered in a laboratory, and given back to the patient.
The grouping of biological/targeted therapies types can be confusing because sometimes they are named after what they are and other times they are named by the action they have. The main groups of relevance in kidney cancer are drugs which stop blood vessel formation, cancer growth blockers and immunotherapy (monoclonal antibodies and cytokines). To make it more confusing a few substances could belong to two of these groups.
Generally biological therapies are used when the kidney cancer is more advanced.