Biologic therapy is a kind of therapy designed to affect cancer cell growth. Biologic therapy is not chemotherapy. Depending on the type of cancer being treated, biologic therapies may be added to other cancer therapies. Erbitux is a biologic therapy.
Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance such as a bacteria, virus, or toxin. They are the body’s natural defense mechanism against infection, and help to destroy infectious agents. Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies produced in a laboratory to target a very specific portion of foreign substances (antigen). Because of their precision, ideally treatment is more effective with fewer side effects.
Erbitux is a monoclonal antibody that has been designed to bind and block structures that are often present on cancer cells. These structures are called epidermal growth factor receptors, or EGFRs. While EGFRs are often present on cancer cells, they are also present on some normal cells.
The goal of biologic therapy is to kill the cancer cell, or cause it to die, while minimizing damage to the healthy cell. Depending on the type of the cancer being treated, biologic therapies may be added to other cancer therapies.